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University of California • Berkeley 

Gift of 




Man and Superman. A 
Comedy and a Philoso- 
phy. By Bernard Shaw. 

Westminster : Archibald 
Constable & Co., Ltd., 



My dear Walkley 

You once asked me why I did not 
write a Don Juan play. The levity with which you assumed 
this frightful responsibility has probably by this time en- 
abled you to forget it; but the day of reckoning has 
arrived : here is your play ! I say your play, because qui 
facit per alium facit per se. Its profits, like its labor, 
belong to me : its morals, its manners, its philosophy, its 
influence on the young, are for you to justify. You were 
of mature age when you made the suggestion ; and you 
knew your man. It is hardly fifteen years since, as twin 
pioneers of the New Journalism of that time, we two, 
cradled in the same new sheets, began an epoch in the 
criticism of the theatre and the opera house by making it 
the pretext for a propaganda of our own views of life. So 
you cannot plead ignorance of the character of the force 
you set in motion. You meant me to epater le bourgeois ; 
and if he protests, I hereby refer him to you as the 
accountable party. 

I warn you that if you attempt to repudiate your re- 
sponsibility, I shall suspect you of finding the play too 
decorous for your taste. The fifteen years have made me 
older and graver. In you I can detect no such becoming 

vi Epistle Dedicatory- 

change. Your levities and audacities are like the loves 
and comforts of Florizel and Perdita : they increase, even 
as your years do grow. No mere pioneering journal dares 
meddle with them now : the stately Times itself is alone 
sufficiently above suspicion to act as your chaperone ; and 
even the Times must sometimes thank its stars that new 
plays are not produced every day, since after each such 
event its gravity is compromised, its platitude turned to 
epigram, its portentousness to wit, its propriety to ele- 
gance, and even its decorum into naughtiness by criticisms 
which the traditions of the paper do not allow you to sign 
at the end, but which you take care to sign with the most 
extravagant flourishes between the lines. I am not sure 
that this is not a portent of Revolution. In eighteenth 
century France the end was at hand when men bought the 
Encyclopedia and found Diderot there. When I buy the 
Times and find you there, my prophetic ear catches a 
rattle of twentieth century tumbrils. 

However, that is not my present anxiety. The ques- 
tion is, will you not be disappointed with a Don Juan play 
in which not one of that hero's mille e tre adventures is 
brought upon the stage? To propitiate you, let me ex- 
plain myself. You will retort that I never do anything 
else : it is your favorite jibe at me that what I call drama 
is nothing but explanation. But you must not expect me 
to adopt your inexplicable, fantastic, petulant, fastidious 
ways : you must take me as I am, a reasonable, patient, 
consistent, apologetic, laborious person, with the tempera- 
ment of a schoolmaster and the pursuits of a vestryman. 
No doubt that literary knack of mine which happens to 
amuse the British public distracts attention from my 
character ; but the character is there none the less, solid 
as bricks. I have a conscience ; and conscience is always 
anxiously explanatory. You, on the contrary, feel that a 
man who discusses his conscience is much like a woman 
who discusses her modesty. The only moral force you 
condescend to parade is the force of your wit : the only 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley vii 

demand you make in public is the demand of your artistic 
temperament for symmetry, elegance, style, grace, refine- 
ment, and the cleanliness which comes next to godliness 
if not before it. But my conscience is the genuine pulpit 
article : it annoys me to see people comfortable when they 
ought to be uncomfortable; and I insist on making them 
think in order to bring them to conviction of sin. If you 
dont like my preaching you must lump it. I really cannot 
help it. 

In the preface to my Plays for Puritans I explained the 
predicament of our contemporary English drama, forced to 
deal almost exclusively with cases of sexual attraction, and 
yet forbidden to exhibit the incidents of that attraction or 
even to discuss its nature. Your suggestion that I should 
write a Don Juan play was virtually a challenge to me to 
treat this subject myself dramatically. The challenge was 
difficult enough to be worth accepting, because, when you 
come to think of it, though we have plenty of dramas with 
heroes and heroines who are in love and must accordingly 
marry or perish at the end of the play, or about people 
whose relations with one another have been complicated 
by the marriage laws, not to mention the looser sort of 
plays which trade on the tradition that illicit love affairs 
are at once vicious and delightful, we have no modern 
English plays in which the natural attraction of the sexes 
for one another is made the mainspring of the action. That 
is why we insist on beauty in our performers, differing 
herein from the countries our friend William Archer holds 
up as examples of seriousness to our childish theatres. 
There the Juliets and Isoldes, the Romeos and Tristans, 
might be our mothers and fathers. Not so the English 
actress. The heroine she impersonates is not allowed to 
discuss the elemental relations of men and women : all her 
romantic twaddle about novelet-made love, all her purely 
legal dilemmas as to whether she was married or " betrayed," 
quite miss our hearts and worry our minds. To console 
ourselves we must just look at her. We do so; and her 

vili Epistle Dedicatory 

beauty feeds our starving emotions. Sometimes we grumble 
ungallantly at the lady because she does not act as well as 
she looks. But in a drama which, with all its preoccupation 
with sex, is really void of sexual interest, good looks are 
more desired than histrionic skill. 

Let me press this point on you, since you are too clever 
to raise the fool's cry of paradox whenever I take hold of 
a stick by the right instead of the wrong end. Why are 
our occasional attempts to deal with the sex problem on 
the stage so repulsive and dreary that even those who are 
most determined that sex questions shall be held open and 
their discussion kept free, cannot pretend to relish these 
joyless attempts at social sanitation ? Is it not because at 
bottom they are utterly sexless ? What is the usual formula 
for such plays? A woman has, on some past occasion, been 
brought into conflict with the law which regulates the 
relations of the sexes. A man, by falling in love with her, 
or marrying her, is brought into conflict with the social 
convention which discountenances the woman. Now the 
conflicts of individuals with law and convention can be 
dramatized like all other human conflicts ; but they are 
purely judicial ; and the fact that we are much more curi- 
ous about the suppressed relations between the man and 
the woman than about the relations between both and our 
courts of law and private juries of matrons, produces that 
sensation of evasion, of dissatisfaction, of fundamental 
irrelevance, of shallowness, of useless disagreeableness, of 
total failure to edify and partial failure to interest, which 
is as familiar to you in the theatres as it was to me when I, 
too, frequented those uncomfortable buildings, and found 
our popular playwrights in the mind to (as they thought) 
emulate Ibsen. 

I take it that when you asked me for a Don Juan play 
you did not want that sort of thing. Nobody does : the 
successes such plays sometimes obtain are due to the 
incidental conventional melodrama with which the experi- 
enced popular author instinctively saves himself from failure. 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley ix 

But what did you want? Owing to your unfortunate habit 
— you now, I hope, feci its inconvenience — of not explain- 
ing yourself, I have had to discover this for myself. First, 
then, I have had to ask myself, what is a Don Juan? 
Vulgarly, a libertine. But your dislike of vulgarity is pushed 
to the length of a defect (universality of character is im- 
possible without a share of vulgarity) ; and even if you 
could acquire the taste, you would find yourself overfed 
from ordinary sources without troubling me. So I took it 
that you demanded a Don Juan in the philosophic sense. 

Philosophically, Don Juan is a man who, though gifted 
enough to be exceptionally capable of distinguishing be- 
tween good and evil, follows his own instincts without 
regard to the common, statute, or canon law; and there- 
fore, whilst gaining the ardent sympathy of our rebellious 
instincts (which are flattered by the brilliancies with which 
Don Juan associates them) finds himself in mortal conflict 
with existing institutions, and defends himself by fraud and 
force as unscrupulously as a farmer defends his crops by 
the same means against vermin. The prototypic Don Juan, 
invented early in the XVI century by a Spanish monk, 
was presented, according to the ideas of that time, as the 
enemy of God, the approach of whose vengeance is felt 
throughout the drama, growing in menace from minute to 
minute. No anxiety is caused on Don Juan's account by 
any minor antagonist : he easily eludes the police, temporal 
and spiritual ; and when an indignant father seeks private 
redress with the sword, Don Juan kills him without an 
effort. Not until the slain father returns from heaven as 
the agent of God, in the form of his own statue, does he 
prevail against his slayer and cast him into hell. The moral 
is a monkish one : repent and reform now; for tomorrow 
it may be too late. This is really the only point on which 
Don Juan is sceptical ; for he is a devout believer in an 
ultimate hell, and risks damnation only because, as he is 
young, it seems so far off that repentance can be postponed 
until he has amused himself to his heart's content. 

X Epistle Dedicatory 

But the lesson intended by an author is hardly ever the 
lesson the world chooses to learn from his book. What 
attracts and impresses us in El Burlador de Sevilla is not 
the immediate urgency of repentance, but the heroism of 
daring to be the enemy of God. From Prometheus to my 
own Devil's Disciple, such enemies have always been 
popular. Don Juan became such a pet that the world could 
not bear his damnation. It reconciled him sentimentally to 
God in a second version, and clamored for his canonization 
for a whole century, thus treating him as English journal- 
ism has treated that comic foe of the gods. Punch. Moliere's 
Don Juan casts back to the original in point of impenitence ; 
but in piety he falls off greatly. True, he also proposes to 
repent; but in what terms! "Oui, ma foi ! il faut 
s'amender. Encore vingt ou trente ans de cette vie-ci, et 
puis nous songerons a nous." After Moliere comes the 
artist-enchanter, the master of masters, Mozart, who reveals 
the hero's spirit in r;;iagical harmonies, elfin tones, and elate 
darting rhythms as of summer lightning made audible. Here 
you have freedom in love and in morality mocking ex- 
quisitely at slavery to them, and interesting you, attracting 
you, tempting you, inexplicably forcing you to range the 
hero with his enemy the statue on a transcendant plane, 
leaving the prudish daughter and her priggish lover on a 
crockery shelf below to live piously ever after. 

After these completed works Byron's fragment does not 
count for much philosophically. Our vagabond libertines 
are no more interesting from that point of view than the 
sailor who has a wife in every port ; and Byron's hero is, 
after all, only a vagabond libertine. And he is dumb : he 
does not discuss himself with a Sganarelle-Leporello or 
with the fathers or brothers of his mistresses : he does not 
even, like Casanova, tell his own story. In fact he is not a 
true Don Juan at all ; for he is no more an enemy of God 
than any romantic and adventurous young sower of wild 
oats. Had you and I been in his place at his age, who 
knows whether we might not have done as he did, unless 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xi 

indeed your fastidiousness had saved you from the empress 
Catherine. Byron was as little of a philosopher as Peter the 
Great : both were instances of that rare and useful, but 
unedifying variation, an energetic genius born without the 
prejudices or superstitions of his contemporaries. The 
resultant unscrupulous freedom of thought made Byron a 
greater poet than Wordsworth just as it made Peter a 
greater king than George III ; but as it was, after all, only 
a negative qualification, it did not prevent Peter from being 
an appalling blackguard and an arrant poltroon, nor did it 
enable Byron to become a religious force like Shelley. Let 
us, then, leave Byron's Don Juan out of account. Mozart's 
is the last of the true Don Juans; for by the time he was 
of age, his cousin Faust had, in the hands of Goethe, taken 
his place and carried both his warfare and his reconciliation 
with the gods far beyond mere lovemaking into politics, 
high art, schemes for reclaiming new continents from the 
ocean, and recognition of an eternal womanly principle in 
the universe. Goethe's Faust and Mozart's Don Juan were 
the last words of the XVIII century on the subject ; and 
by the time the polite critics of the XIX century, ignoring 
William Blake as superficially as the XVIII had ignored 
Hogarth or the XVII Bunyan, had got past the Dickens- 
Macaulay Dumas-Guizot stage and the Stendhal-Meredith- 
TurgeniefF stage, and were confronted with philosophic 
fiction by such pens as Ibsen's and Tolstoy's, Don Juan 
had changed his sex and become Dona Juana, breaking out 
of the Doll's House and asserting herself as an individual 
instead of a mere item in a moral pageant. 

Now it is all very well for you at the beginning of the 
XX century to ask me for a Don Juan play; but you will 
see from the foregoing survey that Don Juan is a full century 
out of date for you and for me ; and if there are millions 
of less literate people who are still in the eighteenth century, 
have they not Moli^re and Mozart, upon whose art no 
human hand can improve? You would laugh at me if at 
this time of day I dealt in duels and ghosts and "womanly" 

xli Epistle Dedicatory 

women. As to mere libertinism, you would be the first to 
remind me that the Festin de Pierre of Moliere is not a 
play for amorists, and that one bar of the voluptuous senti- 
mentality of Gounod or Bizet would appear as a licentious 
stain on the score of Don Giovanni. Even the more abstract 
parts of the Don Juan play are dilapidated past use : for 
instance, Don Juan's supernatural antagonist hurled those 
who refuse to repent into lakes of burning brimstone, there 
to be tormented by devils with horns and tails. Of that 
antagonist, and of that conception of repentance, how much 
is left that could be used in a play by me dedicated to you ? 
On the otherhand, those forces of middle class public opinion 
which hardly existed for a Spanish nobleman in the days of 
the first Don Juan, are now triumphant everywhere. Civil- 
ized society is one huge bourgeoisie : no nobleman dares now 
shock his greengrocer. The women, "marchesane, princi- 
pesse, cameriere, cittadlne" and all, are become equally 
dangerous : the sex is aggressive, powerful : when women 
are wronged they do not group themselves pathetically to 
sing "Protegga il giusto cielo" : they grasp formidable legal 
and social weapons, and retaliate. Political parties are 
wrecked and public careers undone by a single indiscretion. 
A man had better have all the statues in London to supper 
with him, ugly as they are, than be brought to the bar of 
the Nonconformist Conscience by Donna Elvira. Excom- 
munication has become almost as serious a business as it was 
in the X century. 

As a result, Man is no longer, like Don Juan, victor in 
the duel of sex. Whether he has ever really been may be 
doubted : at all events the enormous superiority of Woman's 
natural position in this matter is telling with greater and 
greater force. As to pulling the Nonconformist Conscience 
by the beard as Don Juan plucked the beard of the Com- 
mandant's statue in the convent of San Francisco, that is 
out of the question nowadays : prudence and good manners 
alike forbid it to a hero with any mind. Besides, it is Don 
Juan's own beard that is in danger of plucking. Far from 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xiii 

relapsing into hypocrisy, as Sganarelle feared, he has unex- 
pectedly discovered a moral in his immorality. The growing 
recognition of his new point of view is heaping responsibility 
on him. His former jests he has had to take as seriously as 
I have had to take some of the jests of Mr W. S. Gilbert. 
His scepticism, once his least tolerated quality, has now 
triumphed so completely that he can no longer assert himself 
by witty negations, and must, to save himself from cipherdom, 
find an affirmative position. His thousand and three affairs 
of gallantry, after becoming, at most, two immature intrigues 
leading to sordid and prolonged complications and humilia- 
tions, have been discarded altogether as unworthy of his 
philosophic dignity and compromising to his newly ac- 
knowledged position as the founder of a school. Instead of 
pretending to read Ovid he does actually read Schopenhaur 
and Nietzsche, studies Westermarck, and is concerned for 
the future of the race instead of for the freedom of his own 
instincts. Thus his profligacy and his dare-devil airs have 
gone the way of his sword and mandoline into the rag shop 
of anachronisms and superstitions. In fact, he is now more 
Hamlet than Don Juan ; for though the lines put into 
the actor's mouth to indicate to the pit that Hamlet is a 
philosopher are for the most part mere harmonious platitude 
which, with a little debasement of the word-music, would 
be properer to Pecksniff, yet if you separate the real hero, 
inarticulate and unintelligible to himself except in flashes 
of inspiration, from the performer who has to talk at any 
cost through five acts ; and if you also do what you must 
always do in Shakespear's tragedies : that is, dissect out the 
absurd sensational incidents and physical violences of the 
borrowed story from the genuine Shakespearian tissue, you 
will get a true Promethean foe of the gods, whose instinctive 
attitude towards women much resembles that to which Don 
Juan is now driven. From this point of view Hamlet was a 
developed Don Juan whom Shakespear palmed off as a 
reputable man just as he palmed poor Macbeth off as a 
murderer. To-day the palming off is no longer necessary 

XIV Epistle Dedicatory 

(at least on your plane and mine) because Don Juanism is 
no longer misunderstood as mere Casanovism. Don Juan 
himself is almost ascetic in his desire to avoid that mis- 
understanding ; and so my attempt to bring him up to date 
by launching him as a modern Englishman into a modern 
English environment has produced a figure superficially 
quite unlike the hero of Mozart. 

And yet I have not the heart to disappoint you wholly of 
another glimpse of the Mozartian dissoluto punito and 
his antagonist the statue. I feel sure you would like to know 
more of that statue — to draw him out when he is off duty, 
so to speak. To gratify you, I have resorted to the trick of 
the strolling theatrical manager who advertizes the panto- 
mime of Sinbad the Sailor with a stock of second-hand 
picture posters designed for Ali Baba. He simply thrusts a 
few oil jars into the valley of diamonds, and so fulfils the 
promise held out by the hoardings to the public eye. I have 
adapted this easy device to our occasion by thrusting into 
my perfectly modern three-act play a totally extraneous 
act in which my hero, enchanted by the air of the Sierra, 
has a dream in which his Mozartian ancestor appears and 
philosophizes at great length in a Shavio-Socratic dialogue 
with the lady, the statue, and the devil. 

But this pleasantry is not the essence of the play. Over 
this essence I have no control. You propound a certain 
social substance, sexual attraction to wit, for dramatic dis- 
tillation ; and I distil it for you. I do not adulterate the 
product with aphrodisiacs nor dilute it with romance and 
water ; for I am merely executing your commission, not 
producing a popular play for the market. You must there- 
fore (unless, like most wise men, you read the play first and 
the preface afterwards) prepare yourself to face a trumpery 
story of modern London life, a life, in which, as you know, 
the ordinary man's main business is to get means to keep 
up the position and habits of a gentleman, and the ordinary 
woman's business is to get married. In 9,999 cases out of 
1 0,000, you can count on their doing nothing, whether noble 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xv 

or base, that conflicts with these ends ; and that assurance 
is what you rely on as their religion, their morality, their 
principles, their patriotism, their reputation, their honor 
and so forth. 

On the whole, this is a sensible and satisfactory foundation 
for societ)\ Money means nourishment and marriage means 
children ; and that men should put nourishment first and 
women children first is, broadly speaking, the law of Nature 
and not the dictate of personal ambition. The secret of the 
prosaic man's success, such as it is, is the simplicity with 
which he pursues these ends : the secret of the artistic man's 
failure, such as that is, is the versatility with which he strays 
in all directions after secondary ideals. The artist is either 
a poet or a scallawag : as poet, he cannot see, as the prosaic 
man does, that chivalry is at bottom only romantic suicide : 
as scallawag, he cannot see that it does not pay to spunge 
and beg and lie and brag and neglect his person. Therefore 
do not misunderstand my plain statement of the fundamental 
constitution of London society as an Irishman's reproach to 
your nation. From the day I first set foot on this foreign 
soil I knew the value of the prosaic qualities of which Irish- 
men teach Englishmen to be ashamed as well as I knew 
the vanity of the poetic qualities of which Englishmen 
teach Irishmen to be proud. For the Irishman instinctively 
disparages the quality which makes the Englishman danger- 
ous to him ; and the Englishman instinctively flatters the 
fault that makes the Irishman harmless and amusing to him. 
What is wrong with the prosaic Englishman is what is wrong 
with the prosaic men of all countries : stupidity. The vital- 
ity which places nourishment and children first, heaven 
and hell a somewhat remote second, and the health of society 
as an organic whole nowhere, may muddle successfully 
through the comparatively tribal stages of gregariousness ; 
but in nineteenth century nations and twentieth century 
empires the determination of every man to be rich at all 
costs, and of every woman to be married at all costs, must, 
without a highly scientific social organization, produce a 


xvi Epistle Dedicatory 

ruinous development of poverty, celibacy, prostitution, in- 
fant mortality, adult degeneracy, and everything that wise 
men most dread. In short, there is no future for men, 
however brimming with crude vitality, who are neither 
intelligent nor politically educated enough to be Socialists. 
So do not misunderstand me in the other direction either: 
if I appreciate the vital qualities of the Englishman as I 
appreciate the vital qualities of the bee, I do not guarantee 
the Englishman against being, like the bee (or the Canaan- 
ite) smoked out and unloaded of his honey by beings in- 
ferior to himself in simple acquisitiveness, combativeness, 
and fecundity, but superior to him in imagination and 

The Don Juan play, however, is to deal with sexual 
attraction, and not with nutrition, and to deal with it in a 
society in which the serious business of sex is left by men 
to women, as the serious business of nutrition is left by 
women to men. That the men, to protect themselves against 
a too aggressive prosecution of the women's business, have 
set up a feeble romantic convention that the initiative in 
sex business must always come from the man, is true ; but 
the pretence is so shallow that even in the theatre, that last 
sanctuary of unreality, it imposes only on the inexperienced. 
In Shakespear's plays the woman always takes the initiative. 
In his problem plays and his popular plays alike the love 
interest is the interest of seeing the woman hunt the man 
down. She may do it by blandishment, like Rosalind, or 
by stratagem, like Mariana ; but in every case the relation 
between the woman and the man is the same : she is the 
pursuer and contriver, he the pursued and disposed of. 
When she is baffled, like Ophelia, she goes mad and com- 
mits suicide ; and the man goes straight from her funeral 
to a fencing match. No doubt Nature, with very young 
creatures, may save the woman the trouble of scheming: 
Prospero knows that he has only to throw Ferdinand and 
Miranda together and they will mate like a pair of doves ; 
and there is no need for Perdita to capture Florizel as 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xvii 

the lady doctor in All's Well That End's Well (an early 
Ibsenite heroine) captures Bertram. But the mature cases 
all illustrate the Shakespearian law. The one apparent 
exception, Petruchio, is not a real one : he is most care- 
fully characterized as a purely commercial matrimonial 
adventurer. Once he is assured that Katharine has money, 
he undertakes to marry her before he has seen her. In 
real life we find not only Petruchios, but Mantalinis and 
Dobbins who pursue women with appeals to their pity or 
jealousy or vanity, or cling to them in a romantically in- 
fatuated way. Such effeminates do not count in the world 
scheme : even Bunsby dropping like a fascinated bird into 
the jaws of Mrs MacStinger is by comparison a true tragic 
object of pity and terror. I find in my own plays that 
Woman, projecting herself dramatically by my hands (a 
process over which I assure you I have no more real control 
than I have over my wife), behaves just as Woman did in 
the plays of Shakespear. 

And so your Don Juan has come to birth as a stage 
projection of the tragi-comic love chase of the man by the 
woman ; and my Don Juan is the quarry instead of the 
huntsman. Yet he is a true Don Juan, with a sense of 
reality that disables convention, defying to the last the 
fate which finally overtakes him. The woman's need of 
him to enable her to carry on Nature's most urgent work, 
does not prevail against him until his resistance gathers 
her energy to a climax at which she dares to throw away 
her customary exploitations of the conventional affection- 
ate and dutiful poses, and claim him by natural right for a 
purpose that far transcends their mortal personal purposes. 

Among the friends to whom I have read this play in 
manuscript are some of our own sex who are shocked at 
the " unscrupulousness," meaning the total disregard of 
masculine fastidiousness, with which the woman pursues 
her purpose. It does not occur to them that if women 
were as fastidious as men, morally or physically, there 
would be an end of the race. Is there anything meaner 

xviii Epistle Dedicatory 

than to throw necessary work upon other people and then 
disparage it as unworthy and indelicate. We laugh at the 
haughty American nation because it makes the negro clean 
its boots and then proves the moral and physical inferiority 
of the negro by the fact that he is a shoeblack ; but we 
ourselves throw the whole drudgery of creation on one 
sex, and then imply that no female of any womanliness or 
delicacy would initiate any effort in that direction. There 
are no limits to male hypocrisy in this matter. No doubt 
there are moments when man's sexual immunities are 
made acutely humiliating to him. When the terrible 
moment of birth arrives, its supreme importance and its 
superhuman effort and peril, in which the father has no 
part, dwarf him into the meanest insignificance : he slinks 
out of the way of the humblest petticoat, happy if he be 
poor enough to be pushed out of the house to outface his 
ignominy by drunken rejoicings. But when the crisis is 
over he takes his revenge, swaggering as the breadwinner, 
and speaking of Woman's "sphere" with condescension, 
even with chivalry, as if the kitchen and the nursery were 
less important than the office in the city. When his swagger 
is exhausted he drivels into erotic poetry or sentimental 
uxoriousness ; and the Tennysonian King Arthur posing 
at Guinevere becomes Don Quixote grovelling before 
Dulcinea. You must admit that here Nature beats Comedy 
out of the field : the wildest hominist or feminist farce 
is insipid after the most commonplace "slice of life." 
The pretence that women do not take the initiative is 
part of the farce. Why, the whole world is strewn with 
snares, traps, gins and pitfalls for the capture of men by 
women. Give women the vote, and in five years there will 
be a crushing tax on bachelors. Men, on the other hand, 
attach penalties to marriage, depriving women of property, 
of the franchise, of the free use of their limbs, of that 
ancient symbol of immortality, the right to make oneself 
at home in the house of God by taking off the hat, of 
everything that he can force Woman to dispense with 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xix 

without compelling himself to dispense with her. All in 
vain. Woman must marry because the race must perish 
without her travail : if the risk of death and the certainty 
of pain, danger and unutterable discomforts cannot deter 
her, slavery and swaddled ankles will not. And yet we 
assume that the force that carries women through all these 
perils and hardships, stops abashed before the primnesses 
of our etiquette for young ladies. It is assumed that the 
woman must wait, motionless, until she is wooed. Nay, 
she often does wait motionless. That is how the spider 
waits for the fly. But the spider spins her web. And if the 
fly, like my hero, shews a strength that promises to extri- 
cate him, how swiftly does she abandon her pretence of 
passiveness, and openly fling coil after coil about him until 
he is secured for ever ! 

If the really impressive books and other art-works of 
the world were produced by ordinary men, they would 
express more fear of women's pursuit than love of their 
illusory beauty. But ordinary men cannot produce really 
impressive art-works. Those who can are men of genius : 
that is, men selected by Nature to carry on the work of build- 
ing up an intellectual consciousness of her own instinctive 
purpose. Accordingly, we observe in the man of genius all 
the unscrupulousness and all the "self-sacrifice" (the two 
things are the same) of Woman. He will risk the stake 
and the cross ; starve, when necessary, in a garret all his 
life ; study women and live on their work and care as 
Darwin studied worms and lived upon sheep; work his 
nerves into rags without payment, a sublime altruist in his 
disregard of himself, an atrocious egotist in his disregard of 
others. Here Woman meets a purpose as impersonal, as 
irresistible as her own ; and the clash is sometimes tragic. 
When it is complicated by the genius being a woman, 
then the game is one for a king of critics : your George 
Sand becomes a mother to gain experience for the novelist 
and to develop her, and gobbles up men of genius, Chopins, 
Mussets and the like, as mere hors d'ceuvres. 

XX Epistle Dedicatory 

I state the extreme case, of course ; but what is true of 
the great man who incarnates the philosophic conscious- 
ness of Life and the woman who incarnates its fecundity, 
is true in some degree of all geniuses and all women. 
Hence it is that the world's books get written, its pictures 
painted, its statues modelled, its symphonies composed, by 
people who are free from the otherwise universal dominion 
of the tyranny of sex. Which leads us to the conclusion, 
astonishing to the vulgar, that art, instead of being before 
all things the expression of the normal sexual situation, is 
really the only department in which sex is a superseded 
and secondary power, with its consciousness so confused 
and its purpose so perverted, that its ideas are mere fantasy 
to common men. Whether the artist becomes poet or 
philosopher, moralist or founder of a religion, his sexual 
doctrine is nothing but a barren special pleading for plea- 
sure, excitement, and knowledge when he is young, and 
for contemplative tranquillity when he is old and satiated. 
Romance and Asceticism, Amorism and Puritanism are 
equally unreal in the great Philistine world. The world 
shewn us in books, whether the books be confessed epics 
or professed gospels, or in codes, or in political orations, 
or in philosophic systems, is not the main world at all : it 
is only the self-consciousness of certain abnormal people 
who have the specific artistic talent and temperament. A 
serious matter this for you and me, because the man whose 
consciousness does not correspond to that of the majority 
is a madman ; and the old habit of worshipping madmen 
is giving way to the new habit of locking them up. And 
since what we call education and culture is for the most 
part nothing but the substitution of reading for experience, 
of literature for life, of the obsolete fictitious for the con- 
temporary real, education, as you no doubt observed at 
Oxford, destroys, by supplantation, every mind that is not 
strong enough to see through the imposture and to use the 
great Masters of Arts as what they really are and no 
more ; that is, patentees of highly questionable methods of 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xxi 

thinking, and manufacturers of highly questionable, and 
for the majority but half valid representations of life. The 
schoolboy who uses his Homer to throw at his fellow's 
head makes perhaps the safest and most rational use of 
him ; and I observe with reassurance that you occasionally 
do the same, in your prime, with your Aristotle. 

Fortunately for us, whose minds have been so over- 
whelmingly sophisticated by literature, what produces all 
these treatises and poems and scriptures of one sort or 
another is the struggle of Life to become divinely conscious 
of itself instead of blindly stumbling hither and thither in 
the line of least resistance. Hence there is a driving towards 
truth in all books on matters where the writer, though 
exceptionally gifted, is normally constituted, and has no 
private axe to grind. Copernicus had no motive for mis- 
leading his fellowmen as to the place of the sun in the 
solar system : he looked for it as honestly as a shepherd 
seeks his path in a mist. But Copernicus would not have 
written love stories scientifically. When it comes to sex 
relations, the man of genius does not share the common 
man's danger of capture, nor the woman of genius the 
common woman's overwhelming specialization. And that 
is why our scriptures and other art works, when they deal 
with love, turn from honest attempts at science in physics 
to romantic nonsense, erotic ecstasy, or the stern asceticism 
of satiety (" the road of excess leads to the palace of 
wisdom'* said William Blake; for "you never know what 
is enough unless you know what is more than enough "). 

There is a political aspect of this sex question which 
is too big for my comedy, and too momentous to be passed 
over without culpable frivolity. It is impossible to demon- 
strate that the initiative in sex transactions remains with 
Woman, and has been confirmed to her, so far, more and more 
by the suppression of rapine and discouragement of impor- 
tunity, without being driven to very serious reflections on 
the fact that this initiative is politically the most important 
of all the initiatives, because our political experiment of 

xxii Epistle Dedicatory 

democracy, the last refuge of cheap misgovernment, will 
ruin us if our citizens are ill bred. 

When we two were born, this country was still domin- 
ated by a selected class bred by political marriages. The 
commercial class had not then completed the first twenty- 
five years of its new share of political power; and it was 
itself selected by money qualification, and bred, if not 
by political marriage, at least by a pretty rigorous class 
marriage. Aristocracy and plutocracy still furnish the 
figureheads of politics ; but they are now dependent on 
the votes of the promiscuously bred masses. And this, if 
you please, at the very moment when the political problem, 
having suddenly ceased to mean a very limited and occa- 
sional interference, mostly by way of jobbing public 
appointments, in the mismanagement of a tight but 
parochial little island, with occasional meaningless prose- 
cution of dynastic wars, has become the industrial re- 
organization of Britain, the construction of a practically 
international Commonwealth, and the partition of the 
whole of Africa and perhaps the whole of Asia by the 
civilized Powers. Can you believe that the people whose 
conceptions of society and conduct, whose power of atten- 
tion and scope of interest, are measured by the British 
theatre as you know it to-day, can either handle this 
colossal task themselves, or understand and support the 
sort of mind and character that is (at least comparatively) 
capable of handling it ? For remember : what our voters 
are in the pit and gallery they are also in the polling 
booth. We are all now under what Burke called "the 
hoofs of the swinish multitude." Burke's language gave 
great offence because the implied exceptions to its universal 
application made it a class insult ; and it certainly was not 
for the pot to call the kettle black. The aristocracy he 
defended, in spite of the political marriages by which it 
tried to secure breeding for itself, had its mind undertrained 
by silly schoolmasters and governesses, its character cor- 
rupted by gratuitous luxury, its self-respect adulterated to 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xxiil 

complete spuriousness by flattery and flunkeyism. It is no 
better to-day and never will be any better : our very peasants 
have something morally hardier in them that culminates 
occasionally in a Bunyan, a Burns, or a Carlyle. But 
observe, this aristocracy, which was overpowered from 
1832 to 1885 by the middle class, has come back to 
power by the votes of "the swinish multitude." Tom 
Paine has triumphed over Edmund Burke ; and the swine 
are now courted electors. How many of their own class 
have these electors sent to parliament? Hardly a dozen 
out of 670, and these only under the persuasion of con- 
spicuous personal qualifications and popular eloquence. 
The multitude thus pronounces judgment on its own 
units : it admits itself unfit to govern, and will vote only 
for a man morphologically and generically transfigured by 
palatial residence and equipage, by transcendent tailoring, 
by the glamor of aristocratic kinship. Well, we two know 
these transfigured persons, these college passmen, these 
well groomed monocular Algys and Bobbies, these cricketers 
to whom age brings golf instead of wisdom, these pluto- 
cratic products of " the nail and sarspan business as he got 
his money by." Do you know whether to laugh or cry at 
the notion that they, poor devils ! will drive a team of 
continents as they drive a four-in-hand; turn a jostling 
anarchy of casual trade and speculation into an ordered 
productivity ; and federate our colonies into a world- 
Power of the first magnitude ? Give these people the most 
perfect political constitution and the soundest political 
program that benevolent omniscience can devise for them ; 
and they will interpret it into mere fashionable folly or 
canting charity as infallibly as a savage converts the philo- 
sophical theology of a Scotch missionary into crude African 

I do not know whether you have any illusions left on 
the subject of education, progress, and so forth. 1 have 
none. Any pamphleteer can shew the way to better things; 
but when there is no will there is no way. My nurse was 

xxiv Epistle Dedicatory 

fond of remarking that you cannot make a silk purse out 
of a sow's ear ; and the more I see of the efforts of our 
churches and universities and literary sages to raise the 
mass above its own level, the more convinced I am that 
my nurse was right. Progress can do nothing but make the 
most of us all as we are, and that most would clearly not 
be enough even if those who are already raised out of the 
lowest abysses would allow the others a chance. The 
bubble of Heredity has been pricked : the certainty that 
acquirements are negligible as elements in practical heredity 
has demolished the hopes of the educationists as well as 
the terrors of the degeneracy mongers ; and we know now 
that there is no hereditary " governing class " any more 
than a hereditary hooliganism. We must either breed 
political capacity or be ruined by Democracy, which was 
forced on us by the failure of the older alternatives. Yet 
if Despotism failed only for want of a capable benevolent 
despot, what chance has Democracy, which requires a 
whole population of capable voters : that is, of political 
critics who, if they cannot govern in person for lack of 
spare energy or specific talent for administration, can at 
least recognize and appreciate capacity and benevolence 
in others, and so govern through capably benevolent 
representatives ? Where are such voters to be found today ? 
Nowhere. Promiscuous breeding has produced a weakness 
of character that is too timid to face the full stringency of 
a thoroughly competitive struggle for existence and too 
lazy and petty to organize the commonwealth co-opera- 
tively. Being cowards, we defeat natural selection under 
cover of philanthropy : being sluggards, we neglect arti- 
ficial selection under cover of delicacy and morality. 

Yet we must get an electorate of capable critics or 
collapse as Rome and Egypt collapsed. At this moment 
the Roman decadent phase of panem et circenses is 
being inaugurated under our eyes. Our newspapers and 
melodramas are blustering about our imperial destiny ; but 
our eyes and hearts turn eagerly to the American million- 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xxv 

aire. As his hand goes down to his pocket, our fingers go 
up to the brims of our hats by instinct. Our ideal pros- 
perity is not the prosperity of the industrial north, but 
the prosperity of the Isle of Wight, of Folkestone and 
Ramsgate, of Nice and Monte Carlo. That is the only 
prosperity you see on the stage, where the workers are all 
footmen, parlourmaids, comic lodging-letters and fashion- 
able professional men, whilst the heroes and heroines are 
miraculously provided with unlimited dividends, and eat 
gratuitously, like the knights in Don Quixote's books of 
chivalry. The city papers prate of the competition of 
Bombay with Manchester and the like. The real compe- 
tition is the competition of Regent Street with the Rue 
de Rivoli, of Brighton and the south coast with the 
Riviera, for the spending money of the American Trusts. 
What is all this growing love of pageantry, this effusive 
loyalty, this officious rising and uncovering at a wave from 
a flag or a blast from a brass band? Imperialism? Not a 
bit of it. Obsequiousness, servility, cupidity roused by the 
prevailing smell of money. When Mr Carnegie rattled 
his millions in his pockets all England became one 
rapacious cringe. Only, when Rhodes (who had probably 
been reading my Socialism for Millionaires) left word 
that no idler was to inherit his estate, the bent backs 
straightened mistrustfully for a moment. Could it be that 
the Diamond King was no gentleman after all ? However, 
it was easy to ignore a rich man's solecism. The un- 
gentlemanly clause was not mentioned again ; and the 
backs soon bowed themselves back into their natural 

But I hear you asking me in alarm whether I have 
actually put all this tub thumping into a Don Juan 
comedy. I have not. But I have made my Don Juan a 
political pamphleteer, and have given his pamphlet in full 
by way of appendix. You will find it at the end of the 
book. I am sorry to say that it is a common practice with 
romancers to announce their hero as a man of extraordinary 

xxvi Epistle Dedicatory 

genius, and then leave his works entirely to the reader's 
imagination ; so that at the end of the book you whisper 
to yourself ruefully that but for the author's solemn pre- 
liminary assurance you should hardly have given the 
gentleman credit for ordinary good sense. You cannot 
accuse me of this pitiable barrenness, this feeble evasion. 
I not only tell you that my hero wrote a revolutionists' 
handbook : I give you the handbook at full length for 
your edification if you care to read it. And in that hand- 
book you will find the politics of the sex question as I 
conceive Don Juan's descendant to understand them. Not 
that I disclaim the fullest responsibility for his opinions 
and for those of all my characters, pleasant and unpleasant. 
They are all right from their several points of view ; and 
their points of view are, for the dramatic moment, mine 
also. This may puzzle the people who believe that there 
is such a thing as an absolutely right point of view, usually 
their own. It may seem to them that nobody who doubts 
this can be in a state of grace. However that may be, it 
is certainly true that nobody who agrees with them can 
possibly be a dramatist, or indeed anything else that turns 
upon a knowledge of mankind. Hence it has been pointed 
out that Shakespear had no conscience. Neither have I, 
in that sense. 

You may, however, remind me that this digression of 
mine into politics was preceded by a very convincing 
demonstration that the artist never catches the point of 
view of the common man on the question of sex, because 
he is not in the same predicament. I first prove that 
anything I write on the relation of the sexes is sure to be 
misleading; and then I proceed to write a Don Juan play. 
Well, if you insist on asking me why I behave in this 
absurd way, I can only reply that you asked me to, and 
that in any case my treatment of the subject may be valid 
for the artist, amusing to the amateur, and at least intel- 
ligible and therefore possibly suggestive to the Philistine. 
Every man who records his illusions is providing data for 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xxvii 

the genuinely scientific psychology which the world still 
waits for. I plank down my view of the existing relations 
of men to women in the most highly civilized society for 
what it is worth. It is a view like any other view and no 
more, neither true nor false, but, I hope, a way of looking 
at the subject which throws into the familiar order of 
cause and effect a sufficient body of fact and experience 
to be interesting to you, if not to the playgoing public of 
London. I have certainly shewn little consideration for 
that public in this enterprise ; but I know that it has the 
friendliest disposition towards you and me as far as it has 
any consciousness of our existence, and quite understands 
that what I write for you must pass at a considerable 
height over its simple romantic head. It will take my 
books as read and my genius for granted, trusting me to 
put forth work of such quality as shall bear out its verdict. 
So we may disport ourselves on our own plane to the top 
of our bent ; and if any gentleman points out that neither 
this epistle dedicatory nor the dream of Don Juan in the 
third act of the ensuing comedy is suitable for immediate 
production at a popular theatre we need not contradict 
him. Napoleon provided Talma with a pit of kings, with 
what effect on Talma's acting is not recorded. As for me, 
what I have always wanted is a pit of philosophers ; and 
this is a play for such a pit. 

I should make formal acknowledgment to the authors 
whom I have pillaged in the following pages if I could 
recollect them all. The theft of the brigand-poetaster from 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is deliberate ; and the meta- 
morphosis of Leporello into Enry Straker, motor engineer 
and New Man, is an intentional dramatic sketch of the 
contemporary embryo of Mr H. G. Wells's anticipation 
of the efficient engineering class which will, he hopes, 
finally sweep the jabberers out of the way of civilization. 
Mr Barric has also, whilst I am correcting my proofs, 
delighted London with a servant who knows more than 
his masters. The conception of Mendoza Limited I trace 

xxviii Epistle Dedicatory 

back to a certain West Indian colonial secretary, who, 
at a period when he and I and Mr Sidney Webb were 
sowing our political wild oats as a sort of Fabian Three 
Musketeers, without any prevision of the surprising re- 
spectability of the crop that followed, recommended 
Webb, the encyclopedic and inexhaustible, to form him- 
self into a company for the benefit of the shareholders. 
Octavius I take over unaltered from Mozart ; and I hereby 
authorize any actor who impersonates him, to sing " Dalla 
sua pace" (if he can) at any convenient moment during 
the representation. Ann was suggested to me by the 
fifteenth century Dutch morality called Everyman, which 
Mr William Poel has lately resuscitated so triumphantly. 
I trust he will work that vein further, and recognize that 
Elizabethan Renascence fustian is no more bearable after 
medieval poesy than Scribe after Ibsen. As I sat watch- 
ing Everyman at the Charterhouse, I said to myself Why 
not Everywoman? Ann was the result: every woman is 
not Ann ; but Ann is Everywoman. 

That the author of Everyman was no mere artist, but 
an artist-philosopher, and that the artist-philosophers are 
the only sort of artists I take quite seriously, will be no 
news to you. Even Plato and Boswell, as the dramatists 
who invented Socrates and Dr Johnson, impress me more 
deeply than the romantic playwrights. Ever since, as a boy, 
I first breathed the air of the transcendental regions at a 
performance of Mozart's Zauberflote, I have been proof 
against the garish splendors and alcoholic excitements of 
the ordinary stage combinations of Tappertitian romance 
with the police intelligence. Bunyan, Blake, Hogarth 
and Turner (these four apart and above all the English 
classics), Goethe, Shelley, Schopenhaur, Wagner, Ibsen, 
Morris, Tolstoy, and Nietzsche are among the writers 
whose peculiar sense of the world I recognize as more or 
less akin to my own. Mark the word peculiar. I read 
Dickens and Shakespear without shame or stint ; but their 
pregnant observations and demonstrations of life are not 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xxix 

co-ordinated into any philosophy or religion : on the 
contrary, Dickens's sentimental assumptions are violently 
contradicted by his observations ; and Shakespear's pessim- 
ism is only his wounded humanity. Both have the specific 
genius of the fictionist and the common sympathies of 
human feeling and thought in pre-eminent degree. They 
are often saner and shrewder than the philosophers just as 
Sancho-Panza was often saner and shrewder than Don 
Quixote. They clear away vast masses of oppressive gravity 
by their sense of the ridiculous, which is at bottom a com- 
bination of sound moral judgment with lighthearted good 
humor. But they are concerned with the diversities of the 
world instead of with its unities : they are so irreligious 
that they exploit popular religion for professional purposes 
without delicacy or scruple (for example, Sydney Carton 
and the ghost in Hamlet !) : they are anarchical, and 
cannot balance their exposures of Angelo and Dogberry, 
Sir Leicester Dedlock and Mr Tite Barnacle, with any 
portrait of a prophet or a worthy leader : they have no 
constructive ideas : they regard those who have them as 
dangerous fanatics : in all their fictions there is no leading 
thought or inspiration for which any man could conceivably 
risk the spoiling of his hat in a shower, much less his life. 
Both are alike forced to borrow motives for the more 
strenuous actions of their personages from the common 
stockpot of melodramatic plots ; so that Hamlet has to be 
stimulated by the prejudices of a policeman and Macbeth 
by the cupidities of a bushranger. Dickens, without the 
excuse of having to manufacture motives for Hamlets 
and Macbeths, superfluously punts his crew down the 
stream of his monthly parts by mechanical devices which 
I leave you to describe, my own memory being quite 
baffled by the simplest question as to Monks in Oliver 
Twist, or the long lost parentage of Smike, or the relations 
between the Dorrit and Clennam families so inopportune- 
ly discovered by Monsieur Rigaud Blandois. The truth 
is, the world was to Shakespear a great "stage of fools" on 

XXX Epistle Dedicatory 

which he was utterly bewildered. He could see no sort of 
sense in living at all ; and Dickens saved himself from the 
despair of the dream in The Chimes by taking the world 
for granted and busying himself with its details. Neither of 
them could do anything with a serious positive character : 
they could place a human figure before you with perfect 
verisimilitude ; but when the moment came for making 
it live and move, they found, unless it made them laugh, 
that they had a puppet on their hands, and had to invent 
some artificial external stimulus to make it work. This is 
what is the matter with Hamlet all through : he has no 
will except in his bursts of temper. Foolish Bardolaters 
make a virtue of this after their fashion : they declare that 
the play is the tragedy of irresolution ; but all Shakespear's 
projections of the deepest humanity he knew have the 
same defect: their characters and manners are lifelike; 
but their actions are forced on them from without, and 
the external force is grotesquely inappropriate except when 
it is quite conventional, as in the case of Henry V. 
Falstaff is more vivid than any of these serious reflective 
characters, because he is self-acting : his motives are his 
own appetites and instincts and humors. Richard IH, too, 
is delightful as the whimsical comedian who stops a funeral 
to make love to the corpse's widow; but when, in the 
next act, he is replaced by a stage villain who smothers 
babies and offs with people's heads, we are revolted at the 
imposture and repudiate the changeling. Faulconbridge, 
Coriolanus, Leontes are admirable descriptions of instinc- 
tive temperaments : indeed the play of Coriolanus is the 
greatest of Shakespear's comedies ; but description is not 
philosophy; and comedy neither compromises the author 
nor reveals him. He must be judged by those characters 
into which he puts what he knows of himself, his Hamlets 
and Macbeths and Lears and Prosperos. If these characters 
are agonizing in a void about factitious melodramatic 
murders and revenges and the like, whilst the comic 
characters walk with their feet on solid ground, vivid and 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xxxi 

amusing, you know that the author has much to shew and 
nothing to teach. The comparison between FalstafF and 
Prospero is like the comparison between Micawber and 
David Copperiield. At the end of the book you know 
Micawber, whereas you only know what has happened to 
David, and are not interested enough in him to wonder 
what his politics or religion might be if anything so 
stupendous as a religious or political idea, or a general 
idea of any sort, were to occur to him. He is tolerable as 
a child ; but he never becomes a man, and might be left 
out of his own biography altogether but for his usefulness 
as a stage confidant, a Horatio or '* Charles his friend" — 
what they call on the stage a feeder. 

Now you cannot say thi« of the works of the artist-philo- 
sophers. You cannot say it, for instance, of The Pilgrim's 
Progress. Put your Shakespearian hero and coward, Henry V 
and Pistol or Parolles, beside Mr Valiant and Mr Fearing, and 
you have a sudden revelation of the abyss that lies between 
the fashionable author who could see nothing in the world 
but personal aims and the tragedy of their disappointment 
or the comedy of their incongruity, and the field preacher 
who achieved virtue and courage by identifying himself 
with the purpose of the world as he understood it. The 
contrast is enormous : Bunyan's coward stirs your blood 
more than Shakespear's hero, who actually leaves you cold 
and secretly hostile. You suddenly see that Shakespear, 
with all his flashes and divinations, never understood virtue 
and courage, never conceived how any man who was not 
a fool could, like Bunyan's hero, look back from the brink 
of the river of death over the strife and labor of his pil- 
grimage, and say "yet do I not repent me " ; or, with the 
panache of a millionaire, bequeath "my sword to him that 
shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and 
skill to him that can get it." This is the true joy in 
life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself 
as a mighty one ; the being thoroughly worn out before 
you are thrown on the scrap heap ; the being a force of 


xxxii Epistle Dedicatory- 

Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments 
and grievances complaining that the w^orld will not devote 
itself to making you happy. And also the only real tragedy 
in life is the being used by personally minded men for 
purposes which you recognize to be base. All the rest is at 
worst mere misfortune or mortality : this alone is misery, 
slavery, hell on earth; and the revolt against it is the only 
force that offers a man's work to the poor artist, whom 
our personally minded rich people would so willingly 
employ as pandar, buffoon, beauty monger, sentimentalizer 
and the like. 

It may seem a long step from Bunyan to Nietzsche ; 
but the difference between their conclusions is merely 
formal. Bunyan's perception that righteousness is filthy 
rags, his scorn for Mr Legality in the village of Morality, 
his defiance of the Church as the supplanter of religion, 
his insistence on courage as the virtue of virtues, his de- 
scription of the career of a conventionally respectable and 
successful man (Mr Torvald Helmer as it were) as the life 
and death of Mr Badman : all this, expressed by Bunyan 
in the terms of a tinker's theology, is what Nietzsche has 
expressed in terms of post-Darwinian, post-Schopenhaurian 
philosophy ; Wagner in terms of polytheistic mythology ; 
and Ibsen in terms of mid-XIX century Parisian drama- 
turgy. Nothing is new in these matters except their 
novelties : for instance, it is a novelty to call Justification 
by Faith " Wille," and Justification by Works " Vorstel- 
lung." The sole use of the novelty is that you and I buy 
and read Schopenhaur's treatise on Will and Representa- 
tion when we should not dream of buying a set of ser- 
mons on Faith versus Works. At bottom the controversy 
is the same, and the dramatic results are the same. 
Bunyan makes no attempt to present his pilgrims as 
more sensible or better conducted than Mr Worldly 
Wiseman. Mr W.W.'s worst enemies, Mr Embezzler, Mr 
Never -go -to -Church -on -Sunday, Mr Bad Form, Mr 
Murderer, Mr Burglar, Mr Co-respondent, Mr Blackmailer, 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xxxiii 

Mr Cad, Mr Drunkard, Mr Labor Agitator and so forth, 
can read the Pilgrim's Progress without finding a word 
said against them ; whereas the respectable people who 
snub them and put them in prison, such as Mr W. W. 
himself and his young friend Civility; Formalist and 
Hypocrisy; Wildhead, Inconsiderate, and Pragmatick 
(who were clearly young university men of good family 
and high feeding) ; that brisk lad Ignorance, Talkative, 
By-Ends of Fairspeech and his mother-in-law Lady 
Feigning, and other reputable gentlemen and citizens, 
catch it very severely. Even Little Faith, though he gets to 
Heaven at last, is given to understand that it served him 
right to be mobbed by the brothers Faint Heart, Mistrust, 
and Guilt, all three recognized members of respectable 
society and veritable pillars of the law. The whole allegory 
is a consistent attack on morality and respectability, with- 
out a word that one can remember against vice and crime. 
Exactly what is complained of in Nietzsche and Ibsen, is 
it not? And also exactly what would be complained of in 
all the literature which is great enough and old enough to 
have attained canonical rank, officially or unofficially, were 
it not that books are admitted to the canon by a compact 
which confesses their greatness in consideration of abrogat- 
ing their meaning ; so that the reverend rector can agree 
with the prophet Micah as to his inspired style without 
being committed to any complicity in Micah's furiously 
Radical opinions. Why, even I, as I force myself, pen in 
hand, into recognition and civility, find all the force of my 
onslaught destroyed by a simple policy of non-resistance. 
In vain do I redouble the violence of the language in 
which I proclaim my heterodoxies. I rail at the theistic 
credulity of Voltaire, the amoristic superstition of Shelley, 
the revival of tribal soothsaying and idolatrous rites which 
Huxley called Science and mistook for an advance on the 
Pentateuch, no less than at the welter of ecclesiastical and 
professional humbug which saves the face of the stupid 
system of violence and robbery which we call Law and 

C 2 

xxxiv Epistle Dedicatory 

Industry. Even atheists reproach me with infidelity and 
anarchists with nihilism because I cannot endure their 
moral tirades. And yet, instead of exclaiming " Send this 
inconceivable Satanist to the stake," the respectable news- 
papers pith me by announcing "another book by this brilliant 
and thoughtful writer." And the ordinary citizen, knowing 
that an author who is well spoken of by a respectable 
newspaper must be all right, reads me, as he reads Micah, 
with undisturbed edification from his own point of view. 
It is narrated that in the eighteenseventies an old lady, a 
very devout Methodist, moved from Colchester to a house 
in the neighborhood of the City Road, in London, where, 
mistaking the Hall of Science for a chapel, she sat at the 
feet of Charles Bradlaugh for many years, entranced by 
his eloquence, without questioning his orthodoxy or moult- 
ing a feather of her faith. I fear I shall be defrauded of 
my just martyrdom in the same way. 

However, I am digressing, as a man with a grievance 
always does. And after all, the main thing in determining the 
artistic quality of a book is not the opinions it propagates, 
but the fact that the writer has opinions. The old lady from 
Colchester was right to sun her simple soul in the energetic 
radiance of Bradlaugh's genuine beliefs and disbeliefs rather 
than in the chill of such mere painting of light and heat as 
elocution and convention can achieve. My contempt for 
belles lettres, and for amateurs who become the heroes of 
the fanciers of literary virtuosity, is not founded on any 
illusion of mind as to the permanence of those forms of 
thought (call them opinions) by which I strive to com- 
municate my bent to my fellows. To younger men they 
are already outmoded ; for though they have no more lost 
their logic than an eighteenth century pastel has lost its 
drawing or its color, yet, like the pastel, they grow inde- 
finably shabby, and will grow shabbier until they cease to 
count at all, when my books will either perish, or, if the 
world is still poor enough to want them, will have to 
stand, with Bunyan's, by quite amorphous qualities of 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xxxv 

temper and energy. With this conviction I cannot be a 
bellettrist. No doubt I must recognize, as even the Ancient 
Mariner did, that I must tell my story entertainingly if I 
am to hold the wedding guest spellbound in spite of the 
siren sounds of the loud bassoon. But "for art's sake" alone 
I would not face the toil of writing a single sentence. 
I know that there are men who, having nothing to say and 
nothing to write, are nevertheless so in love with oratory 
and with literature that they delight in repeating as much 
as they can understand of what others have said or written 
aforetime. I know that the leisurely tricks which their 
want of conviction leaves them free to play with the diluted 
and misapprehended message supply them with a pleasant 
parlor game which they call style. I can pity their dotage 
and even sympathize with their fancy. But a true original 
style is never achieved for its own sake : a man may pay from 
a shilling to a guinea, according to his means, to see, hear, 
or read another man's act of genius; but he will not pay 
with his whole life and soul to become a mere virtuoso in 
literature, exhibiting an accomplishment which will not 
even make money for him, like fiddle playing. Effective- 
ness of assertion is the Alpha and Omega of style. He 
who has nothing to assert has no style and can have none : 
he who has something to assert will go as far in power of 
style as its momentousness and his conviction will carry 
him. Disprove his assertion after it is made, yet its style 
remains. Darwin has no more destroyed the style of Job 
nor of Handel than Martin Luther destroyed the style of 
Giotto. All the assertions get disproved sooner or later ; 
and so we find the world full of a magnificent debris of 
artistic fossils, with the matter-of-fact credibility gone 
clean out of them, but the form still splendid. And that is 
why the old masters play the deuce with our mere sus- 
ceptibles. Your Royal Academician thinks he can get the 
style of Giotto without Giotto's beliefs, and correct his 
perspective into the bargain. Your man of letters thinks he 
can get Banyan's or Shakespear's style without Bunyan's 

xxxvi Epistle Dedicatory- 

conviction or Shakespear's apprehension, especially if he 
takes care not to split his infinitives. And so with your 
Doctors of Music, who, with their collections of discords 
duly prepared and resolved or retarded or anticipated in 
the manner of the great composers, think they can learn 
the art of Palestrina from Cherubini's treatise. All this 
academic art is far worse than the trade in sham antique 
furniture ; for the man who sells me an oaken chest which 
he swears was made in the XIII century, though as a 
matter of fact he made it himself only yesterday, at least 
does not pretend that there are any modern ideas in it ; 
whereas your academic copier of fossils offers them to you 
as the latest outpouring of the human spirit, and, worst of 
all, kidnaps young people as pupils and persuades them 
that his limitations are rules, his observances dexterities, 
his timidities good taste, and his emptinesses purities. And 
when he declares that art should not be didactic, all the 
people who have nothing to teach and all the people who 
dont want to learn agree with him emphatically. 

I pride myself on not being one of these susceptibles. 
If you study the electric light with which I supply you in 
that Bumbledonian public capacity of mine over which you 
make merry from time to time, you will find that your 
house contains a great quantity of highly susceptible copper 
wire which gorges itself with electricity and gives you no 
light whatever. But here and there occurs a scrap of in- 
tensely insusceptible, intensely resistant material ; and that 
stubborn scrap grapples with the current and will not let 
it through until it has made itself useful to you as those two 
vital qualities of literature, light and heat. Now if I am to 
be no mere copper wire amateur but a luminous author, I 
must also be a most intensely refractory person, liable to 
go out and to go wrong at inconvenient moments, and with 
incendiary possibilities. These are the faults of my qualities ; 
and I assure you that I sometimes dislike myself so 
much that when some irritable reviewer chances at that 
moment to pitch into me with zest, I feel unspeakably 

to Arthur Bingham Walkley xxxvii 

relieved and obliged. But I never dream of reforming, 
knowing that I must take myself as I am and get what work 
I can out of myself. All this you will understand ; for there 
is community of material between us : we arc both critics 
of life as well as of art ; and you have perhaps said to your- 
self when I have passed your windows " There, but for the 
grace of God, go I." An awful and chastening reflection, 
which shall be the closing cadence of this immoderately 
long letter from yours faithfully, 

G. Bernard Shaw. 
Woking, 1903. 

Man and Superman * . . . i 

The Revolutionist's Handbook . 177 

I. On Good Breeding . . .181 
II. Property and Marriage . .184 

III. The Perfectionist Experiment at 

Oneida Creek . . .191 

IV. Man's Objection to his own 

Improvement . . -194 
V. The Political Need for the 

Superman . . . .196 

VI. Prudery Explained . . • ^99 

VII. Progress an Illusion . . .201 

VIII. The Conceit of Civilization . 208 

IX. The Verdict of History . .216 

X. The Method . . . .220 

Maxims for Revolutionists . .225 

* This play has been publicly performed within the United 
Kingdom. It is entered at Stationers^ Hall and at the Library 
of Congress^ Washington^ U.S.A. Jll rights reserved. 





Roebuck Rams den is in his study ^ opening the morning's 
letters. The study ^ handsomely and so/idly furnished^ proclaims 
the man of means. Not a speck of dust is visible: it is clear 
that there are at least two housemaids and a parlormaid down- 
stairs ^ and a housekeeper upstairs who does not let them spare 
elbow-grease. Even the top of Roebuck's head is polished: on a 
sunshiny day he could heliograph his orders to distant camps by 
merely nodding. In no other respect^ however ^ does he suggest 
the military man. It is in active civil life that men get his 
broad air of importance^ his dignified expectation of deference, 
his determinate mouth disarmed and refined since the hour of his 
success hy the withdrawal of opposition and the concession of 
comfort and precedence and power. He is more than a highly 
respectable man: he is marked out as a president of highly 
respectable men, a chairman among directors, an alderman 
among councillors, a mayor among aldermen. Four tufts of iron- 
grey hair, which will soon be as white as isinglass, and are in 
other respects not at all unlike it, grow in two symmetrical pairs 
above his ears and at the angles of his spreading jaws. He wears 
a black frock coat, a white waistcoat {it is bright spring 
weather), and trousers, neither black nor perceptibly blue, cf 
one of those indefinitely mixed hues which the modern clothier 


2 Man and Superman Act I 

has produced to harmonize with the religions of respectable men. 
He has not been out of doors yet to-day; so he still wears his 
slippers^ his boots being ready for him on the hearthrug. Sur- 
mising that he has no valet, and seeing that he has no secretary 
with a shorthand notebook and a typewriter, one meditates on 
how little our great burgess domesticity has been disturbed by 
new fashions and methods, or by the enterprise of the railway 
and hotel companies which sell you a Saturday to Monday of 
life at Folkestone as a real gentleman for two guineas^ first class 
fares both ways included. 

How old is Roebuck? The question is important on the 
threshold of a drama of ideas ; for under such circumstances 
everything depends on whether his adolescence belonged to the 
sixties or to the eighties. He was born, as a matter of fact, in 
1839, and was a Unitarian and Free Trader from his boyhood, 
and an Evolutionist from the publication of the Origin of 
Species. Consequently he has always classed himself as an ad- 
vanced thinker and fearlessly outspoken reformer. 

Sitting at his writing table, he has on his right the windows 
giving on Portland Place. Through these, as through a proscen- 
ium, the curious spectator may contemplate his profile as well as 
the blinds will permit. On his left is the inner wall, with a 
stately bookcase, and the door not quite in the middle, but some- 
what further from him. Against the wall opposite him are two 
busts on pillars: one, to his left, of John Bright ; the other, to 
his right, of Mr Herbert Spencer. Between them hang an en- 
graved portrait of Richard Cobden; enlarged photographs of 
Mar tine au, Huxley, and George Eliot ; autotypes of allegories 
by Mr G. F. Watts {for Roebuck believes in the fine arts with 
all the earnestness of a man who does not understand them), and 
an impression ofDuponfs engraving of Delaroche^s Beaux Arts 
hemicycle, representing the great men of all ages. On the wall 
behind him, above the mantelshelf is a family portrait of im- 
penetrable obscurity. 

A chair stands near the writing table for the convenience of 
business visitors. Two other chairs are against the wall between 
the busts. 

Act I Man and Superman 3 

A parlormaid enters with a visitor^ s card. Roebuck takes it, 
and nods, pleased. Evidently a welcome caller. 

RAMSDEN. Shew him up. 

The parlormaid goes out and returns with the visitor. 

THE MAID. Mr Robinson. 

Mr Robinson is really an uncommonly nice looking young 
fellow. He must, one thinks, be the jeune premier; for it is not 
in reason to suppose that a second such attractive male figure 
should appear in one story. The slim, shapely frame, the elegant 
suit of new mourning, the small head and regular features, the 
pretty little moustache, the frank clear eyes, the wholesome bloom 
on the youthful complexion, the well brushed glossy hair, not 
curly, but of fine texture and good dark color, the arch of good 
nature in the eyebrows, the erect forehead and neatly pointed 
chin, all announce the man who will love and suffer later on. 
Jnd that he will not do so without sympathy is guaranteed by an 
engaging sincerity and eager modest serviceableness which stamp 
him as a man of amiable nature. The moment he appears, 
Ramsden^s face expands into fatherly liking and welcome, an 
expression which drops into one of decorous grief as the young 
man approaches him with sorrow in his face as well as in his 
black clothes. Ramsden seems to know the nature of the bereave- 
ment. As the visitor advances silently to the writing table, the 
old man rises and shakes his hand across it without a word: a 
long, affectionate shake which tells the story of a recent sorrow 
common to both. 

RAMSDEN [concluding the handshake and cheering up'\ Well, 
well, Octavius, it's the common lot. We must all face it 
some day. Sit down. 

Octavius takes the visitor's chair. Ramsden replaces himself 
in his own. 

OCTAVIUS. Yes : we must face it, Mr Ramsden. But I 
owed him a great deal. He did everything for me that my 
father could have done if he had lived. 

RAMSDEN. He had no son of his own, you see. 

OCTAVIUS. But he had daughters ; and yet he was as good 

4 Man and Superman Act I 

to my sister as to me. And his death was so sudden ! I 
always intended to thank him — to let him know that I had 
not taken all his care of me as a matter of course, as any 
boy takes his father's care. But I waited for an opportunity ; 
and now he is dead — dropped without a moment's warning. 
He will never know what I felt. [^He takes out his handker- 
chief and cries unaffectedly"]. 

RAMSDEN. How do w e know that, Octavius? He may 
know it : we cannot tell. Come! dont grieve. [^Octavius 
masters himself and puts up his handkerchief ^ Thats right. 
Now let me tell you something to console you. The last 
time I saw him — it was in this very room — he said to me : 
" Tavy is a generous lad and the soul of honor ; and 
when I see how little consideration other men get from 
their sons, I realize how much better than a son hes been 
to me." There ! Doesnt that do you good ? 

OCTAVIUS. Mr Ramsden : he used to say to me that he 
had met only one man in the world who was the soul of 
honor, and that was Roebuck Ramsden. 

RAMSDEN. Oh, that was his partiality : we were very 
old friends, you know. But there was something else 
he used to say about you. I wonder whether I ought to 
tell you or not ! 

OCTAVIUS. You know best. 

RAMSDEN. It was Something about his daughter. 

OCTAVIUS [eagerly'\ About Ann ! Oh, do tell me that, 
Mr Ramsden. 

RAMSDEN. Well, he said he was glad, after all, you were 
not his son, because he thought that someday Annie and 
you — [Octavius blushes vividly']. Well, perhaps I shouldnt 
have told you. But he was in earnest. 

OCTAVIUS. Oh, if only I thought I had a chance ! You 
know, Mr Ramsden, I dont care about money or about 
what people call position; and I cant bring myself to take 
an interest in the business of struggling for them. Well, 
Ann has a most exquisite nature; but she is so accustomed 
to be in the thick of that sort of thing that she thinks a 

Act I Man and Superman 5 

man's character incomplete if he is not ambitious. She 
knows that if she married me she would have to reason 
herself out of being ashamed of me for not being a big 
success of some kind. 

RAMSDEN [getting up and planting himself with his back to 
the fireplace^ Nonsense, my boy, nonsense ! Youre too 
modest. What does she know about the real value of men 
at her age? \More seriously'] Besides, shes a wonderfully 
dutiful girl. Her father's wish would be sacred to her. Do 
you know that since she grew up to years of discretion, I dont 
believe she has ever once given her own wish as a reason 
for doing anything or not doing it. It's always "Father 
wishes me to," or " Mother wouldnt like it." It's really 
almost a fault in her. I have often told her she must learn 
to think for herself. 

ocTAVius [^shaking his head] I couldnt ask her to marry 
me because her father wished it, Mr Ramsden. 

RAMSDEN. Well, perhaps not. No : of course not. I see 
that. No : you certainly couldnt. But when you win her 
on your own merits, it will be a great happiness to her to 
fulfil her father's desire as well as her own. Eh ? Come ! 
youll ask her, wont you? 

OCTAVIUS [with sad gaiety] At all events I promise you I 
shall never ask anyone else. 

RAMSDEN. Oh, you shant need to. She'll accept you, my 
boy — although [here he suddenly becomes very serious indeed] 
you have one great drawback. 

OCTAVIUS [anxiously] What drawback is that, Mr Rams- 
den ? I should rather say which of my many drawbacks? 

RAMSDEN. I'll tell you, Octavius. [He takes from the table 
a book bound in red cloth], I have in my hand a copy of the 
most infamous, the most scandalous, the most mischievous, 
the most blackguardly book that ever escaped burning at 
the hands of the common hangman. I have not read it : I 
would not soil my mind with such filth; but I have read 
what the papers say of it. The title is quite enough for me. 
[He reads it]. The Revolutionist's Handbook and Pocket 

6 Man and Superman Act I 

Companion. By John Tanner, M.I.R.C., Member of the 
Idle Rich Class. 

ocTAVius [smiling] But Jack — 

RAMSDEN [testily] For goodness' sake, dont call him Jack 
under my roof [he throws the book violently down on the table. 
Then, somewhat relieved^ he comes past the table to Octamus, 
and addresses him at close quarters with impressive gravity]. 
Now, Octavius, I know that my dead friend was right when 
he said you were a generous lad. I know that this man was 
your schoolfellow, and that you feel bound to stand by him 
because there was a boyish friendship between you. But I 
ask you to consider the altered circumstances. You were 
treated as a son in my friend's house. You lived there ; and 
your friends could not be turned from the door. This man 
Tanner was in and out there on your account almost from 
his childhood. He addresses Annie by her Christian name 
as freely as you do. Well, while her father was alive, that 
was her father's business, not mine. This man Tanner 
was only a boy to him : his opinions were something to be 
laughed at, like a man's hat on a child's head. But now 
Tanner is a grown man and Annie a grown woman. And 
her father is gone. We dont as yet know the exact terms 
of his will; but he often talked it over with me; and I 
have no more doubt than I have that youre sitting there 
that the will appoints me Annie's trustee and guardian. 
[Forcibly] Now I tell you, once for all, I cant and I 
wont have Annie placed in such a position that she must, 
out of regard for you, suffer the intimacy of this fellow 
Tanner. It's not fair : it's not right : it's not kind. What 
are you going to do about it? 

OCTAVIUS. But Ann herself has told Jack that whatever 
his opinions are, he will always be welcome because he 
knew her dear father. 

RAMSDEN [out of patience] That girl's mad about her duty 
to her parents. [He starts off like a goaded ox in the direction 
of John Bright^ in whose expression there is no sympathy for 
him. As he speaks he fumes down to Herbert Spencer y who 

Act I Man and Superman 7 

receives him still more coldlf\. Excuse me, Octavius ; but 
there are limits to social toleration. You know that I am 
not a bigoted or prejudiced man. You know that I am plain 
Roebuck Ramsden when other men who have done less 
have got handles to their names, because I have stood for 
equality and liberty of conscience while they were truckling 
to the Church and to the aristocracy. Whitefield and I 
lost chance after chance through our advanced opinions. 
But I draw the line at Anarchism and Free Love and that 
sort of thing. If I am to be Annie's guardian, she will 
have to learn that she has a duty to me. I wont have it : 
I will not have it. She must forbid John Tanner the 
house ; and so must you. 
The parlormaid returns. 


RAMSDEN [calling his attention to the servant] Ssh ! Well ? 

THE MAID. Mr Tanner wishes to see you, sir. 

RAMSDEN. Mr Tanner ! 


RAMSDEN. How dare Mr Tanner call on me ! Say I 
cannot see him. 

OCTAVIUS [hurt] I am sorry you are turning my friend 
from your door like that. 

THE MAID [calmly] Hes not at the door, sir. Hes up- 
stairs in the drawingroom with Miss Ramsden. He came 
with Mrs Whitefield and Miss Ann and Miss Robinson, sir. 

Rams den's feelings are beyond words. 

OCTAVIUS [grinning] Thats very like Jack, Mr Ramsden. 
You must see him, even if it's only to turn him out. 

RAMSDEN [hammering out his words with suppressed fury] 
Go upstairs and ask Mr Tanner to be good enough to step 
down here. [The parlormaid goes out; and Ramsden returns 
to the fireplace^ as to a fortified position], I must say that of 
all the confounded pieces of impertinence — well, if these 
are Anarchist manners, I hope you like them. And Annie 
with him ! Annie ! A — [he chokes]. 

OCTAVIUS. Yes: thats what surprises mc. Hes so des- 

8 Man and Superman Act I 

perately afraid of Ann. There must be something the 

Mr John Tanfier suddenly opens the door and enters. He 
is too young to be described simply as a big man with a beard. 
But it is already plain that middle life will find him in that 
category. He has still some of the slimness of youth; but youth- 
fulness is not the effect he aims at: his frock coat would befit a 
prime minister; and a certain high chested carriage of the 
shoulders, a lofty pose of the head^ and the Olympian majesty 
with which a mane, or rather a huge wisp, of hazel colored 
hair is thrown back from an imposing brow, suggest Jupiter 
rather than Apollo, He is prodigiously fluent of speech, restless, 
excitable {mark the snorting nostril and the restless blue eye, 
just the thirty-secondth of an inch too wide open), possibly a 
little mad. He is carefully dressed, not from the vanity that 
cannot resist finery, but from a sense of the importance of 
everything he does which leads him to make as much of paying 
a call as other men do of getting married or laying a founda- 
tion stone. A sensitive, susceptible, exaggerative, earnest 
man: a megalomaniac, who would be lost without a sense of 

Just at present the sense of humor is in abeyance. To say 
that he is excited is nothing: all his moods are phases of excite- 
ment. He is now in the panic-stricken phase; and he walks 
straight up to Rams den as if with the fixed intention of shooting 
him on his own hearthrug. But what he pulls from his breast 
pocket is not a pistol, but a foolscap document which he thrusts 
under the indignant nose of Rams den as he exclaims — 

TANNER. Ramsden : do you know what that I's ? 

RAMS DEN \loftily'\ No, sir. 

TANNER. It's a copy of Whiteiield's will. Ann got it 
this morning. 

RAMSDEN. When you say Ann, you mean, I presume, 
Miss Whitefield. 

TANNER. I mean our Ann, your Ann, Tavy's Ann, and 
now, Heaven help me, my Ann ! 

ocTAVius [rising, very pale'\ What do you mean ? 

Act I Man and Superman 9 

TANNER. Mean ! [He holds up the zuill]. Do you know 
who is appointed Ann's guardian by this will ? 

RAMSDEN \_coolly'\ I believe I am. 

TANNER. You ! You and I, man. I! I ! ! I ! ! ! Both 
of us ! \He fiings the will down on the writing taS/e], 

RAMSDEN. You ! Impossiblc. 

TANNER. It's only too hideously true. [He throws him- 
self into Octavius's chair\ Ramsden : get me out of it some- 
how. You dont know Ann as well as I do. She'll commit 
every crime a respectable woman can ; and she'll justify 
everyone of them by saying that it was the wish of her 
guardians. She'll put everything on us ; and we shall have 
no more control over her than a couple of mice over a cat. 

ocTAVius. Jack : I wish you wouldnt talk like that about 

TANNER. This chap's in love with her : thats another 
complication. Well, she'll either jilt him and say I didnt 
approve of him, or marry him and say you ordered her to. 
I tell you, this is the most staggering blow that has ever 
fallen on a man of my age and temperament. 

RAMSDEN. Let me see that will, sir. [He goes to the 
writing table and picks it up\ I cannot believe that my old 
friend Whitefield would have shewn such a want of con- 
fidence in me as to associate me with — [His countenance 
falls as he reads^ 

TANNER. It's all my own doing : thats the horrible irony 
of it. He told me one day that you were to be Ann's guardian ; 
and like a fool I began arguing with him about the folly of 
leaving a young woman under the control of an old man 
with obsolete ideas. 

RAMSDEN [stupended] My Ideas obsolete !!!!!!! 

TANNER. Totally. I had just finished an essay called 
Down with Government by the Greyhaired ; and I was full 
of arguments and illustrations. I said the proper thing was 
to combine the experience of an old hand with the vitality 
of a young one. Hang me if he didnt take me at my word 
and alter his will — it's dated only a fortnight after that 

10 Man and Superman Act I 

conversation — appointing me as joint guardian with 
you ! 

RAMSDEN \^pale and determined'] I shall refuse to act. 

TANNER. Whats the good of that? Ive been refusing all 
the way from Richmond ; but Ann keeps on saying that of 
course shes only an orphan ; and that she cant expect the 
people who were glad to come to the house in her father's 
time to trouble much about her now. Thats the latest 
game. An orphan ! It's like hearing an ironclad talk about 
being at the mercy of the winds and waves. 

ocTAVius. This is not fair, Jack. She is an orphan. 
And you ought to stand by her. 

TANNER. Stand by her ! What danger is she in ? She 
has the law on her side ; she has popular sentiment on her 
side ; she has plenty of money and no conscience. All she 
wants with me is to load up all her moral responsibilities 
on me, and do as she likes at the expense of my character. 
I cant control her ; and she can compromise me as much 
as she likes. I might as well be her husband. 

RAMSDEN. You Can refuse to accept the guardianship. / 
shall certainly refuse to hold it jointly with you. 

TANNER. Yes ; and what will she say to that? what does 
she say to it ? Just that her father's wishes are sacred to her, 
and that she shall always look up to me as her guardian 
whether I care to face the responsibility or not. Refuse ! 
You might as well refuse to accept the embraces of a boa 
constrictor when once it gets round your neck. 

OCTAVIUS. This sort of talk is not kind to me. Jack. 

TANNER [rising and going to Octavius to console him, hut 
still lamenting] If he wanted a young guardian, why didnt 
he appoint Tavy? 

RAMSDEN. Ah! why indeed? 

OCTAVIUS. I will tell you. He sounded me about it ; 
but I refused the trust because I loved her. I had no right 
to let myself be forced on her as a guardian by her father. 
He spoke to her about it ; and she said I was right. You 
know I love her, Mr Ramsden ; and Jack knows it too. If 

Act I Man and Superman 1 1 

Jack loved a woman, I would not compare her to a boa 
constrictor in his presence, however much I might dislike 
her [/^ sits down between the busts and turns his face to tl:>e wall\ 

RAMSDEN. I do not belicvc that Whitefield was in his 
right senses when he made that will. You have admitted 
that he made it under your influence. 

TANNER. You ought to bc pretty well obliged to me for 
my influence. He leaves you two thousand five hundred 
for your trouble. He leaves Tavy a dowry for his sister 
and five thousand for himself 

ocTAVius \^his tears flowing afresh"] Oh, I cant take it. 
He was too good to us. 

TANNER. You wont get it, my boy, if Ramsden upsets 
the will. 

RAMSDEN. Ha ! I see. You have got me in a cleft stick. 

TANNER. He leaves me nothing but the charge of Ann's 
morals, on the ground that I have already more money than 
is good for me. That shews that he had his wits about him, 
doesnt it? 

RAMSDEN [grimly"] I admit that. 

OCTAVIUS [rising and coming from his refuge by the wall] 
Mr Ramsden : I think you are prejudiced against Jack. He 
is a man of honor, and incapable of abusing — 

TANNER. Dont, Tavy : youll make me ill. I am not a 
man of honor : I am a man struck down by a dead hand. 
Tavy : you must marry her after all and take her off my 
hands. And I had set my heart on saving you from her ! 

OCTAVIUS. Oh, Jack, you talk of saving me from my 
highest happiness. 

TANNER. Yes, a lifetime of happiness. If it were only 
the first half hour's happiness, Tavy, I would buy it for you 
with my last penny. But a lifetime of happiness ! No man 
alive could bear it : it would be hell on earth. 

RAMSDEN [violently] Stufi^, sir. Talk sense ; or else go and 
waste someone else's time : I have something better to do 
than listen to your fooleries [he positively kicks his way to his 
table and resumes his seat]. 

1 2 Man and Superman Act I 

TANNER. You hear him, Tavy. Not an idea in his head 
later than eighteensixty. We cant leave Ann with no other 
guardian to turn to. 

RAMSDEN. I am proud of your contempt for my character 
and opinions, sir. Your own are set forth in that book, I 

TANNER {^eagerly going to the table] What ! Youve got 
my book ! What do you think of it.-* 

RAMSDEN. Do you supposc I would read such a book, sir ? 

TANNER. Then why did you buy it? 

RAMSDEN. I did not buy it, sir. It has been sent me by 
some foolish lady who seems to admire your views. I was 
about to dispose of it when Octavius interrupted me. I 
shall do so now, with your permission. [He throws the book 
into the waste paper basket with such vehemence that Tanner 
recoils under the impression that it is being thrown at his head\ 

TANNER. You havc no more manners than I have myself. 
However, that saves ceremony between us. [He sits down 
again\ What do you intend to do about this will ? 

OCTAVIUS. May I make a suggestion .'' 

RAMSDEN. Certainly, Octavius. 

OCTAVIUS. Arnt we forgetting that Ann herself may have 
some wishes in this matter.? 

RAMSDEN. I quite intend that Annie's wishes shall be 
consulted in every reasonable way. But she is only a 
woman, and a young and inexperienced woman at that. 

TANNER. Ramsden : I begin to pity you. 

RAMSDEN \hotlj\ I dont want to know how you feel to- 
wards me, Mr Tanner. 

TANNER. Ann will do just exactly what she likes. And 
whats more, she'll force us to advise her to do it ; and 
she'll put the blame on us if it turns out badly. So, as 
Tavy is longing to see her — • 

OCTAVIUS \}hylf\ I am not, Jack. 

TANNER. You He, Tavy : you are. So lets have her 
down from the drawingroom and ask her what she intends 
us to do. Off with you, Tavy, and fetch her. {Tavy turns 

Act I Man and Superman 1 3 

to go]. And dont be long ; for the strained relations be- 
tween myself and Ramsden will make the interval rather 
painful \Ramsden compresses his lips, but says nothing]. 

ocTAVius. Never mind him, Mr Ramsden. He's not 
serious. [He goes out]. 

RAMSDEN [very deliberately] Mr Tanner : you are the 
most impudent person I have ever met. 

TANNER [seriously] I know it, Ramsden. Yet even I can- 
not wholly conquer shame. We live in an atmosphere of 
shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about 
us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, 
of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as 
we are ashamed of our naked skins. Good Lord, my dear 
Ramsden, we are ashamed to walk, ashamed to ride in an 
omnibus, ashamed to hire a hansom instead of keeping a 
carriage, ashamed of keeping one horse instead of two and 
a groom-gardener instead of a coachman and footman. 
The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respect- 
able he is. Why, youre ashamed to buy my book, ashamed 
to read it : the only thing youre not ashamed of is to judge 
me for it without having read it ; and even that only means 
that youre ashamed to have heterodox opinions. Look at 
the effect I produce because my fairy godmother withheld 
from me this gift of shame. I have every possible virtue 
that a man can have except — 

RAMSDEN. I am glad you think so well of yourself. 

TANNER. All you mean by that is that you think I ought 
to be ashamed of talking about my virtues. You dont mean 
that I havnt got them : you know perfectly well that I am 
as sober and honest a citizen as yourself, as truthful per- 
sonally, and much more truthful politically and morally. 

RAMSDEN [touched on his most sensitive point] I deny that. 
I will not allow you or any man to treat me as if I were a 
mere member of the British public. I detest its prejudices ; 
I scorn its narrowness; I demand the right to think for 
myself. You pose as an advanced man. Let me tell you 
that I was an advanced man before you were born. 

14 Man and Superman Act l 

TANNER. I knew it was a long time ago. 

RAMSDEN. I am as advanced as ever I was. I defy you 
to prove that I have ever hauled down the flag. I am 
more advanced than ever I was. I grow more advanced 
every day. 

TANNER. More advanced in years, Polonius. 

RAMSDEN. Polonius ! So you are Hamlet, I suppose. 

TANNER. No : I am only the most impudent person 
youve ever met. Thats your notion of a thoroughly bad 
character. When you want to give me a piece of your 
mind, you ask yourself, as a thoroughly just man, what is 
the worst you can fairly say of me. Thief, liar, forger, 
adulterer, perjurer, glutton, drunkard? Not one of these 
names fit me. You have to fall back on my deficiency in 
shame. Well I admit it. I even congratulate myself; for 
if I were ashamed of my real self, I should cut as stupid a 
figure as any of the rest of you. Cultivate a little impu- 
dence, Ramsden ; and you will become quite a remarkable 

RAMSDEN. I have no — 

TANNER. You have no desire for that sort of notoriety. 
Bless you, I knew that answer would come as well as I 
know that a box of matches will come out of an automatic 
machine when I put a penny in the slot : you would be 
ashamed to say anything else. 

The crushing retort for which Ramsden has been visibly 
collecting his forces is lost for ever; for at this point Octavius 
returns with Miss Ann White field and her mother; and 
Ramsden springs up and hurries to the door to receive them. 
Whether Ann is good-looking or not depends upon your taste; 
also and perhaps chiefly on your age and sex. To Octavius she 
is an enchantingly beautiful woman, in whose presence the 
world becomes transfigured, and the puny limits of individual 
consciousness are suddenly made infinite by a mystic memory 
of the whole life of the race to its beginnings in the east, or 
even back to the paradise from which it fell. She is to him the 
reality of romance, the inner good sense of nonsense, the unveil- 

Act I Man and Superman 1 5 

ing of his eyes^ the freeing of his soul^ the abolition of time ^ 
place and circumstance^ the etherealization of his blood into 
rapturous rivers of the very water of life itself the revelation 
of all the mysteries and the sanctification of all the dogmas. To 
her mother she is, to put it as moderately as possible, nothing 
whatever of the kind. Not that Octaviuss admiration is in 
any way ridiculous or discreditable. Ann is a well formed 
creature, as far as that goes; and she is perfectly ladylike, 
graceful, and comely, with ensnaring eyes and hair. Besides, 
instead of making herself an eyesore, like her mother, she has 
devised a mourning costume of black and violet silk which does 
honor to her late father and reveals the family tradition of 
brave unconventionality by which Ramsden sets such store. 

But all this is beside the point as an explanation of Ann^s 
charm. Turn up her nose, give a cast to her eye, replace her 
black and violet confection by the apron and feathers of a flower 
girl, strike all the aitches out of her speech, and Ann would still 
make men dream. Vitality is as common as humanity ; but, like 
humanity, it sometimes rises to genius; and Ann is one of the 
vital geniuses. Not at all, if you please, an oversexed person : 
that is a vital defect, not a true excess. She is a perfectly 
respectable, perfectly self controlled woman, and looks it; though 
her pose is fashionably frank and impulsive. She inspires con- 
fidence as a person who will do nothing she does not mean to 
do; also some fear, perhaps, as a woman who will probably do 
everything she means to do without taking more account of other 
people than may be necessary and what she calls right. In short, 
what the weaker of her own sex sometimes call a cat. 

Nothing can be more decorous than her entry and her recep- 
tion by Ramsden, whom she kisses. The late Mr Whitefield 
would be gratified almost to impatience by the long faces of the 
men {except Tanner, who is fidgety), the silent handgrasps, the 
sympathetic placing of chairs, the sniffing of the widow, and 
the liquid eye of the daughter, whose heart, apparently, will not 
let her control her tongue to speech. Ramsden and Octavius 
take the two chairs from the wall, and place them for the two 
ladies; but Ann comes to Tanner and takes his chair, which he 

1 6 Man and Superman Act I 

offers with a brusque gesture^ subsequently relieving his irrita- 
tion by sitting down on the corner of the writing table with 
studied indecorum. Octavius gives Mrs Whitefield a chair 
next Ann, and hi?nself takes the vacant one which Ramsden 
has placed under the nose of the effigy of Mr. Herbert Spencer. 

Mrs. Whitefield, by the way, is a little woman, whose faded 
flaxen hair looks like straw on an egg. She has an expression of 
muddled shrewdness, a squeak of protest in her voice, and an 
odd air of continually elbowing away some larger person who 
is crushing her into a corner. One guesses her as one of those 
women who are conscious of being treated as silly and negligible, 
and who, without having strength enough to assert themselves 
effectually, at any rate never submit to their fate. There is a 
touch of chivalry in Octavius^ scrupulous attention to her, even 
whilst his whole soul is absorbed by Ann. 

Ramsden goes solemnly back to his magisterial seat at the 
writing table, ignoring Tanner, and opens the proceedings. 

RAMSDEN. I am sorry, Annie, to force business on you 
at a sad time like the present. But your poor dear father's 
will has raised a very serious question. You have read it, 
I believe ? 

Ann assents with a nod and a catch of her breath, too much 
affected to speak. 

I must say I am surprised to find Mr Tanner named 
as joint guardian and trustee vi^ith myself of you and 
Rhoda. \A pause. They all look portentous; but they have 
nothing to say. Ramsden, a little ruffled by the lack of any 
response, continues'] I dont know that I can consent to act 
under such conditions. Mr Tanner has, I understand, some 
objection also ; but I do not profess to understand its 
nature : he will no doubt speak for himself. But we are 
agreed that we can decide nothing until we know your 
views. I am afraid I shall have to ask you to choose be- 
tween my sole guardianship and that of Mr Tanner ; for I 
fear it is impossible for us to undertake a joint arrangement. 

ANN [in a low musical voice] Mamma — 

MRS WHITEFIELD [hastily] Now, Ann, I do beg you not 

Act I Man and Superman 17 

to put it on me. I have no opinion on the subject ; and if 
I had, it would probably not be attended to. I am quite 
content with whatever you three think best. 

Tanner turns his head and looks fixedly at Rams den, who 
angrily refuses to receive this mute communication. 

ANN {resuming in the same gentle voice, ignoring her mother^ s 
bad taste] Mamma knows that she is not strong enough to 
bear the whole responsibility for me and Rhoda without 
some help and advice. Rhoda must have a guardian ; and 
though I am older, I do not think any young unmarried 
woman should be left quite to her own guidance. I hope 
you agree with me, Granny ? 

TANNER [starting] Granny! Do you intend to call your 
guardians Granny? 

ANN. Dont be foolish, Jack. Mr Ramsden has always 
been Grandpapa Roebuck to me : I am Granny's Annie ; 
and he is Annie's Granny. I christened him so when I 
first learned to speak. 

RAMSDEN [sarcastically] I hope you are satisfied, Mr 
Tanner. Go on, Annie : I quite agree with you. 

ANN. Well, if I am to have a guardian, can I set aside 
anybody whom my dear father appointed for me ? 

RAMSDEN [biting his lip] You approve of your father's 
choice, then ? 

ANN. It is not for me to approve or disapprove. I 
accept it. My father loved me and knew best what was 
good for me. 

RAMSDEN. Of course I understand your feeling, Annie. 
It is what I should have expected of you ; and it does you 
credit. But it does not settle the question so completely as 
you think. Let me put a case to you. Suppose you were to 
discover that I had been guilty of some disgraceful action — 
that I was not the man your poor dear father took me for ! 
Would you still consider it right that I should be Rhoda's 
guardian ? 

ANN. I cant imagine you doing anything disgraceful, 

1 8 Man and Superman Act I 

TANNER [to Ramsden] You havnt done anything of the 
sort, have you ? 

RAMSDEN [indignantly'] No sir. 

MRS wHiTEFiELD [placidly] Well, then, why suppose it? 

ANN. You see, Granny, Mamma would not like me to 
suppose it. 

RAMSDEN [much pcrpkxed] You are both so full of natural 
and affectionate feeling in these family matters that it is 
very hard to put the situation fairly before you. 

TANNER. Besides, my friend, you are not putting the 
situation fairly before them. 

RAMSDEN [sulkily] Put it yourself, then. 

TANNER. I will. Ann : Ramsden thinks I am not fit to 
be your guardian ; and I quite agree with him. He con- 
siders that if your father had read my book, he wouldnt 
have appointed me. That book is the disgraceful action 
he has been talking about. He thinks it's your duty for 
Rhoda's sake to ask him to act alone and to make me 
withdraw. Say the word; and I will. 

ANN. But I havnt read your book. Jack. 

TANNER [diving at the waste-paper basket and fishing the 
hook out for her] Then read it at once and decide. 

RAMSDEN [vehemently] If I am to be your guardian, I 
positively forbid you to read that book, Annie. [He smites 
the table with his fist and rises]. 

ANN. Of course not if you dont wish it. [She puts the 
hook on the table]. 

TANNER. If one guardian Is to forbid you to read the 
other guardian's book, how are we to settle it ? Sup- 
pose I order you to read it. What about your duty to 

ANN [gently] I am sure you would never purposely force 
me into a painful dilemma. Jack. 

RAMSDEN [irritably] Yes, yes, Annie : this is all very well, 
and, as I said, quite natural and becoming. But you must 
make a choice one way or the other. We are as much in a 
dilemma as you. 

Act I Man and Superman 19 

ANN. I feel that I am too young, too inexperienced, to 
decide. My father's wishes are sacred to me. 

MRS wHiTEFiELD. If you tvvo men wont carry them out 
I must say it is rather hard that you should put the re- 
sponsibility on Ann. It seems to me that people are always 
putting things on other people in this world. 

RAMSDEN. I am sorry you take it in that way. 

ANN. [touchingly'] Do you refuse to accept me as your 
ward, Granny? 

RAMSDEN. No : I Rcvcr said that. I greatly object to act 
with Mr Tanner : thats all. 

MRS WHITEFIELD. Why? What's the matter with poor 

TANNER. My views are too advanced for him. 

RAMSDEN \indignantlj\ They are not. I deny it. 

ANN. Of course not. What nonsense ! Nobody is more 
advanced than Granny. I am sure it is Jack himself who 
has made all the difficulty. Come, Jack ! be kind to me in 
ray sorrow. You dont refuse to accept me as your ward, 
do you ? 

TANNER \gloomilf\ No. I let myself in for it ; so I sup- 
pose I must face it. \He turns away to the bookcase, and 
stands there, moodily studying the titles of the volumes'], 

ANN [rising and expanding with subdued but gushing delight] 
Then we are all agreed j and my dear father's will is to 
be carried out. You dont know what a joy that is to me 
and to my mother ! [Bhe goes to Ramsden and presses both his 
hands, saying] And I shall have my dear Granny to help 
and advise me. [She casts a glance at Tanner over her 
shoulder]. And Jack the Giant Killer. [Bhe goes past her 
mother to Octavius] And Jack's inseparable friend Ricky- 
ticky-tavy [he blushes and looks inexpressibly foolish]. 

MRS WHITEFIELD [rising and shaking her widow^s weeds 
straight] Now that you are Ann's guardian, Mr Ramsden, 
I wish you would speak to her about her habit of giving 
people nicknames. They cant be expected to like it. [She 
moves towards the door]. 

20 Man and Superman Act I 

ANN. How can you say such a thing, Mamma ! [Glozuing 
with affectionate remorse'] Oh, I wonder can you be right ! 
Have I been inconsiderate? [^She turns to Octavius, who is 
sitting astride his chair with his elbows on the back of it. 
Putting her hand on his forehead sloe turns his face up suddenly]. 
Do you want to be treated like a grown up man ? Must I 
call you Mr Robinson in future? 

ocTAVius [earnestly] Oh please call me Ricky-ticky-tavy. 
*'Mr Robinson" would hurt me cruelly. [She laughs and 
pats his cheek with her finger; then comes back to Rams den]. 
You know I'm beginning to think that Granny i s rather a 
piece of impertinence. But I never dreamt of its hurting you. 

RAMSDEN [breezily^ as he pats her affectionately on the back] 
My dear Annie, nonsense. I insist on Granny. I wont 
answer to any other name than Annie's Granny. 

ANN [gratefully] You all spoil me, except Jack. 

TANNER [over his shoulder^ from the bookcase] I think you 
ought to call me Mr Tanner. 

ANN [gently] No you dont, Jack. Thats like the things 
you say on purpose to shock people : those who know you 
pay no attention to them. But, if you like, I'll call you 
after your famous ancestor Don Juan. 

RAMSDEN. Don Juan ! 

ANN [innocently] Oh, is there any harm in it ? I didnt 
know. Then I certainly wont call you that. May I call 
you Jack until I can think of something else? 

TANNER. Oh, for Heaven's sake dont try to invent any- 
thing worse. I capitulate. I consent to Jack. I embrace 
Jack. Here endeth my first and last attempt to assert my 

ANN. You see, Mamma, they all really like to have pet 

MRS WHITEFIELD. Well, I think you might at least drop 
them until we are out of mourning. 

ANN [reproachfully^ stricken to the soul] Oh, how could 
you remind me, mother? [She hastily leaves the room to con- 
ceal her emotion]. 

Act I Man and Superman 21 

MRS wHiTEFiELD. Of coursc. My fault as usual! [S6e 
follows Ann\. 

TANNER {coming from the bookcase'\ Ramsden : we're 
beaten — smashed — nonentitized, like her mother. 

RAMSDEN. Stuff, Sir. \He follows Mrs Wkitefield out of 
the room]. 

TANNER [left alone with Octavius, stares whimsically at 
him] Tavy : do you want to count for something in the 
world ? 

OCTAVIUS. I want to count for something as a poet : I 
want to write a great play. 

TANNER. With Ann as the heroine? 

OCTAVIUS. Yes : I confess it. 

TANNER. Take care, Tavy. The play with Ann as the 
heroine is all right; but if youre not very careful, by 
Heaven she'll marry you. 

OCTAVIUS [sighing] No such luck, Jack ! 

TANNER. Why, man, your head is in the lioness's mouth : 
you are half swallowed already — in three bites — Bite One, 
Ricky; Bite Two, Ticky; Bite Three, Tavy; and down 
you go. 

OCTAVIUS. She is the same to everybody. Jack : you 
know her ways. 

TANNER. Yes : she breaks ever^'-body's back with the 
stroke of her paw ; but the question is, which of us will 
she eat } My own opinion is that she means to eat you. 

OCTAVIUS [rising, pettishly] It's horrible to talk like that 
about her when she is upstairs crying for her father. But 
I do so want her to eat me that I can bear your brutalities 
because they give me hope. 

TANNER. Tavy : thats the devilish side of a woman's 
fascination : she makes you will your own destruction. 

OCTAVIUS. But it's not destruction : it's fulfilment. 

TANNER. Yes, of her purpose; and that purpose is 
neither her happiness nor yours, but Nature's. Vitality in 
a woman is a blind fury of creation. She sacrifices herself 
to it : do you think she will hesitate to sacrifice you ? 

22 Man and Superman Act I 

ocTAVius. Why, it is just because she is self-sacrificing 
that she will not sacrifice those she loves. 

TANNER. That is the profoundest of mistakes, Tavy. It 
is the self-sacrificing women that sacrifice others most 
recklessly. Because they are unselfish, they are kind in 
little things. Because they have a purpose which is not 
their own purpose, but that of the whole universe, a man 
is nothing to them but an instrument of that purpose. 

OCTAVIUS. Dont be ungenerous. Jack. They take the 
tenderest care of us. 

TANNER. Yes, as a soldier takes care of his rifle or a 
musician of his violin. But do they allow us any purpose 
or freedom of our own .'' Will they lend us to one another? 
Can the strongest man escape from them when once he is 
appropriated? They tremble when we are in danger, and 
weep when we die ; but the tears are not for us, but for a 
father wasted, a son's breeding thrown away. They accuse 
us of treating them as a mere means to our pleasure ; but 
how can so feeble and transient a folly as a man's selfish 
pleasure enslave a woman as the whole purpose of Nature 
embodied in a woman can enslave a man ? 

OCTAVIUS. What matter, i£ the slavery makes us happy ? 

TANNER. No matter at all if you have no purpose of 
your own, and are, like most men, a mere breadwinner. 
But you, Tavy, are an artist : that is, you have a pur- 
pose as absorbing and as unscrupulous as a woman's 

OCTAVIUS. Not unscrupulous. 

TANNER. Quite unscrupulous. The true artist will let 
his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge 
for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but 
his art. To women he is half vivisector, half vampire. He 
gets into intimate relations with them to study them, to 
strip the mask of convention from them, to surprise their 
inmost secrets, knowing that they have the power to rouse 
his deepest creative energies, to rescue him from his cold 
reason, to make him see visions and dream dreams, to 

Act I Man and Superman 23 

inspire him, as he calls it. He persuades women that they 
may do this for their own purpose whilst he really means 
them to do it for his. He steals the mother's milk and 
blackens it to make printers ink to scoff at her and glorify 
ideal women with. He pretends to spare her the pangs of 
child-bearing so that he may have for himself the tender- 
ness and fostering that belong of right to her children. 
Since marriage began, the great artist has been known as 
a bad husband. But he is worse : he is a child-robber, a 
blood-sucker, a hypocrite and a cheat. Perish the race and 
wither a thousand women if only the sacrifice of them 
enable him to act Hamlet better, to paint a finer picture, 
to write a deeper poem, a greater play, a profounder 
philosophy ! For mark you, Tavy, the artist's work is to 
shew us ourselves as we really are. Our minds are nothing 
but this knowledge of ourselves; and he who adds a jot to 
such knowledge creates new mind as surely as any woman 
creates new men. In the rage of that creation he is as 
ruthless as the woman, as dangerous to her as she to him, 
and as horribly fascinating. Of all human struggles there 
is none so treacherous and remorseless as the struggle be- 
tween the artist man and the mother woman. Which shall 
use up the other? that is the issue between them. And it 
is all the deadlier because, in your romanticist cant, they 
love one another. 

ocTAvius. Even if it were so — and I dont admit it for 
a moment — it is out of the deadliest struggles that we get 
the noblest characters. 

TANNER. Remember that the next time you meet a 
grizzly bear or a Bengal tiger, Tavy. 

OCTAVIUS. I meant where there is love. Jack. 

TANNER. Oh, the tiger will love you. There is no love 
sincerer than the love of food. I think Ann loves you that 
way : she patted your cheek as if it were a nicely under- 
done chop. 

OCTAVIUS. You know. Jack, I should have to run away 
from you if I did not make it a fixed rule not to mind 

24 Man and Superman Act I 

anything you say. You come out with perfectly revolting 
things sometimes. 

Rams den returns^ followed by Ann, They come in quickly^ 
with their former leisurely air of decorous grief changed to one 
of genuine concern^ and, on Ramsden^s part, of worry. He 
comes between the two men, intending to address Octavius, but 
fulls himself up abruptly as he sees Tanner. 

RAMSDEN. I hardly expected to find you still here, Mr 

TANNER. Am I in the way ? Good morning, fellow 
guardian \he goes towards the door^. 

ANN. Stop, Jack. Granny : he must know, sooner or 

RAMSDEN. Octavius : I have a very serious piece of news 
for you. It is of the most private and delicate nature — of 
the most painful nature too, I am sorry to say. Do you wish 
Mr Tanner to be present whilst I explain ? 

OCTAVIUS [turning pale] I have no secrets from Jack. 

RAMSDEN. Before you decide that finally, let me say 
that the news concerns your sister, and that it is terrible 

OCTAVIUS. Violet! What has happened? Is she — dead? 

RAMSDEN. I am not sure that it is not even worse than 

OCTAVIUS. Is she badly hurt? Has there been an acci- 
dent ? 

RAMSDEN. No : nothing of that sort. 

TANNER. Ann : will you have the common humanity to 
tell us what the matter is ? 

ANN \halfwhispering\ I cant. Violet has done something 
dreadful. We shall have to get her away somewhere. [She 
flutters to the writing table and sits in Rams den's chair, leav- 
ing the three men to fight it out between them\. 

OCTAVIUS [enlightened] Is that what you meant, Mr 
Ramsden ? 

RAMSDEN. Yes. [Octavius sinks upon a chair, crushed], I 
am afraid there is no doubt that Violet did not really go to 

Act I Man and Superman 25 

Eastbourne three weeks ago when we thought she was 
with the Parry Whitefields. And she called on a strange 
doctor yesterday with a wedding ring on her finger. Mrs 
Parry Whitefield met her there by chance ; and so the 
whole thing came out. 

ocTAvius [rising with his fsts clenched^ Who is the 
scoundrel ? 

ANN. She wont tell us. 

OCTAVIUS [collapsing into the chair again"] What a fright- 
ful thing ! 

TANNER [with angry sarcasm] Dreadful. Appalling. 
Worse than death, as Ramsden says. [He comes to 
Octavius], What would you not give, Tavy, to turn it 
into a railway accident, with all her bones broken, or 
something equally respectable and deserving of sympathy? 

OCTAVIUS. Dont be brutal. Jack. 

TANNER. Brutal ! Good Heavens, man, what are you 
crying for? Here is a woman whom we all supposed to 
be making bad water color sketches, practising Grieg and 
Brahms, gadding about to concerts and parties, wasting her 
life and her money. We suddenly learn that she has turned 
from these sillinesses to the fulfilment of her highest pur- 
pose and greatest function — to increase, multiply and re- 
plenish the earth. And instead of admiring her courage 
and rejoicing in her instinct ; instead of crowning the 
completed womanhood and raising the triumphal strain of 
*'Unto us a child is born : unto us a son is given," here you 
are — you who have been as merry as grigs in your mourning 
for the dead — all pulling long faces and looking as ashamed 
and disgraced as if the girl had committed the vilest of 

RAMSDEN [roaring with rage] I will not have these 
abominations uttered in my house [he smites the writing- 
table with his fist], 

TANNER. Look hcrc : if you insult me again I'll take 
you at your word and leave your house. Ann : where is 
Violet now? 

26 Man and Superman Act I 

ANN. Why? Are you going to her? 

TANNER. Of course I am going to her. She wants help ; 
she wants money ; she wants respect and congratulation ; 
she wants every chance for her child. She does not seem 
likely to get it from you : she shall from me. Where is 
she ? 

ANN. Dont be so headstrong, Jack. Shes upstairs. 

TANNER. What! Under Ramsden's sacred roof ! Go and 
do your miserable duty, Ramsden. Hunt her out into the 
street. Cleanse your threshold from her contamination. 
Vindicate the purity of your English home. I'll go for a cab. 

ANN [alarmed'\ Oh, Granny, you mustnt do that. 

ocTAVius \broken-heartedly^ rising] I'll take her away, Mr 
Ramsden. She had no right to come to your house. 

RAMSDEN [indig?jantly] But I am only too anxious to help 
her. [Turning on Tanner] How dare you, sir, impute such 
monstrous intentions to me? I protest against it. I am 
ready to put down my last penny to save her from being 
driven to run to you for protection. 

TANNER [subsiding] It's all right, then. He's not going to 
act up to his principles. It's agreed that we all stand by 

OCTAVIUS. But who is the man ? He can make repara- 
tion by marrying her ; and he shall, or he shall answer for 
it to me. 

RAMSDEN. He shall, Octavius. There you speak like a 

TANNER. Then you dont think him a scoundrel, after all ? 

OCTAVIUS. Not a scoundrel ! He is a heartless scoundrel. 

RAMSDEN. A damned scoundrel. I beg your pardon, 
Annie ; but I can say no less. 

TANNER. So we are to marry your sister to a damned 
scoundrel by way of reforming her character ! On my soul, 
I think you are all mad. 

ANN. Dont be absurd, Jack. Of course you are quite 
right, Tavy ; but we dont know who he is : Violet wont 
tell us. 

Act I Man and Superman 27 

TANNER. What on earth does it matter who he is? He's 
done his part ; and Violet must do the rest. 

RAMSDEN [beside himself] Stuff! lunacy! There is a 
rascal in our midst, a libertine, a villain worse than a 
murderer ; and we are not to learn who he is ! In our 
ignorance we are to shake him by the hand ; to introduce 
him into our homes ; to trust our daughters with him ; 
to — to — 

ANN [coaxingly'\ There, Granny, dont talk so loud. It's 
most shocking : we must all admit that ; but if Violet 
wont tell us, what can we do? Nothing. Simply nothing. 

RAMSDEN. Hmph ! I'm not so sure of that. If any man 
has paid Violet any special attention, we can easily find 
that out. If there is any man of notoriously loose principles 
among us — 

TANNER. Ahem ! 

RAMSDEN [raising his voice] Yes sir, I repeat, if there is 
any man of notoriously loose principles among us — 

TANNER. Or any man notoriously lacking in self-control. 

RAMSDEN [aghast] Do you dare to suggest that / am 
capable of such an act ? 

TANNER. My dear Ramsden, this is an act of which 
every man is capable. That is what comes of getting at 
cross purposes with Nature. The suspicion you have just 
flung at me clings to us all. It's a sort of mud that sticks 
to the judge's ermine or the cardinal's robe as fast as to 
the rags of the tramp. Come, Tavy ! dont look so be- 
wildered : it might have been me : it might have been 
Ramsden; just as it might have been anybody. If it had, 
what could we do but lie and protest — as Ramsden is going 
to protest. 

RAMSDEN [choking] I — I — I — 

TANNER. Guilt itself could not stammer more con- 
fusedly. And yet you know perfectly well hes innocent, 

RAMSDEN [exhausted] I am glad you admit that, sir. I 
admit, myself, that there is an element of truth in what 

28 Man and Superman Act I 

you say, grossly as you may distort it to gratify your 
malicious humor. I hope, Octavius, no suspicion of me is 
possible in your mind. 

OCTAVIUS. Of you ! No, not for a moment. 

TANNER [dri/y] I think he suspects me just a little. 

OCTAVIUS. Jack : you couldnt — you wouldnt — 

TANNER. Why not ? 

OCTAVIUS [appa//ed] Why not ! 

TANNER. Oh, well, I'll tell you why not. First, you 
would feel bound to quarrel with me. Second, Violet 
doesnt like me. Third, if I had the honor of being the 
father of Violet's child, I should boast of it instead of 
denying it. So be easy : our friendship is not in danger. 

OCTAVIUS. I should have put away the suspicion with 
horror if only you would think and feel naturally about it. 
I beg your pardon. 

TANNER. My pardon! nonsense! And now lets sit 
down and have a family council. [He sits down. The rest 
follow his exatnple^ more or less under protest\ Violet is going 
to do the State a service ; consequently she must be packed 
abroad like a criminal until it's over. Whats happening 
upstairs ? 

ANN. Violet is in the housekeeper's room — by herself, 
of course. 

TANNER. Why not in the drawingroom } 

ANN. Dont be absurd. Jack. Miss Ramsden is in the 
drawing-room with my mother, considering what to do. 

TANNER. Oh ! the housekeeper's room is the penitenti- 
ary, I suppose ; and the prisoner is waiting to be brought 
before her judges. The old cats ! 

ANN. Oh, Jack ! 

RAMSDEN. You are at present a guest beneath the roof 
of one of the old cats, sir. My sister is the mistress of this 

TANNER. She would put me in the housekeeper's room, 
too, if she dared, Ramsden. However, I withdraw cats. 
Cats would have more sense, Ann : as your guardian, I 

Act I Man and Superman 29 

order you to go to Violet at once and be particularly kind 
to her. 

ANN. I have seen her, Jack. And I am sorry to say 
I am afraid she is going to be rather obstinate about 
going abroad. I think Tavy ought to speak to her 
about it. 

ocTAVius. How can I speak to her about such a thing 
[/)e breaks down\ ? 

ANN. Dont break down, Ricky. Try to bear it for all 
our sakes. 

RAMSDEN. Life is not all plays and poems, Octavius. 
Come ! face it like a man. 

TANNER [chafing again'] Poor dear brother ! Poor dear 
friends of the family ! Poor dear Tabbies and Grimalkins ! 
Poor dear everybody except the woman who is going to risk 
her life to create another life ! Tavy : dont you be a selfish 
ass. Away with you and talk to Violet ; and bring her 
down here if she cares to come. [Octavius rises]. Tell her 
we'll stand by her. 

RAMSDEN [rising] No, sir — 

TANNER [rising also and interrupting him] Oh, we under- 
stand : it's against your conscience ; but still youll do it. 

OCTAVIUS. I assure you all, on my word, I never meant 
to be selfish. It's so hard to know what to do when one 
wishes earnestly to do right. 

TANNER. My dear Tavy, your pious English habit of 
regarding the world as a moral gymnasium built expressly 
to strengthen your character in, occasionally leads you to 
think about your own confounded principles when you 
should be thinking about other people's necessities. The 
need of the present hour is a happy mother and a healthy 
baby. Bend your energies on that ; and you will see your 
way clearly enough. 

Octavius^ much perplexed, goes out, 

RAMSDEN [facing Tanner impressively] And Morality, sir.? ' 
What is to become of that ? 

TANNER. Meaning a weeping Magdalen and an innocent 

30 Man and Superman Act I 

child branded with her shame. Not in our circle, thank 
you. Morality can go to its father the devil. 

RAMSDEN. I thought SO, sir. Morality sent to the devil 
to please our libertines, male and female. That is to be 
the future of England, is it? 

TANNER. Oh, England will survive your disapproval. 
Meanwhile, I understand that you agree with me as to the 
practical course we are to take.? 

RAMSDEN. Not in your spirit, sir. Not for your reasons. 

TANNER. You cau explain that if anybody calls you to 
account, here or hereafter. [He turns away^ and plants 
himself in front of Mr Herbert Spencer, at whom he stares 

ANN [rising ana coming to Ramsden) Granny : hadnt you 
better go up to the drawing room and tell them what we 
intend to do? 

RAMSDEN [looking pointedly at Tanner"] I hardly like to 
leave you alone with this gentleman. Will you not come 
with me? 

ANN. Miss Ramsden would not like to speak about it 
before me, Granny. I ought not to be present. 

RAMSDEN. You are right : I should have thought of that. 
You are a good girl, Annie. 

He pats her on the shoulder. She looks up at him with 
beaming eyes ; and he goes out, much moved. Having disposed 
of him, she looks at Tanner. His back being turned to her, she 
gives a moment^s attention to her personal appearance, then 
softly goes to him and speaks almost into his ear. 

ANN. Jack [he turns with a start] : are you glad that you 
are my guardian ? You dont mind being made responsible 
for me, I hope. 

TANNER. The latest addition to your collection of scape- 
goats, eh? 

ANN. Oh, that stupid old joke of yours about me ! Do 
please drop it. Why do you say things that you know must 
pain me ? I do my best to please you. Jack : I suppose 
I may tell you so now that you are my guardian. You 

Act I Man and Superman 3 1 

will make me so unhappy if you refuse to be friends 
with me. 

TANNER [stud'^ing her as gloomily as he studied the hust'\ 
You need not go begging for my regard. How unreal our 
moral judgments are ! You seem to me to have absolutely 
no conscience — only hypocrisy; and you cant see the 
difference — ^yet there is a sort of fascination about you. I 
always attend to you, somehow. I should miss you if I lost 

ANN \tranquilly slipping her arm into his and walking about 
with him\ But isnt that only natural, Jack ? We have known 
each other since we were children. Do you remember — 

TANNER [^abruptly breaking loose"] Stop ! I remember every- 

ANN. Oh, I daresay we were often very silly ; but — 

TANNER. I wont havc it, Ann. I am no more that school- 
boy now than I am the dotard of ninety I shall grow into 
if I live long enough. It is over : let me forget it. 

ANN. Wasnt it a happy time? \^She attempts to take his 
arm again]. 

TANNER. Sit down and behave yourself. [^He makes her 
sit down in the chair next the writing table]. No doubt it was 
a happy time for you. You were a good girl and never 
compromised yourself. And yet the wickedest child that 
ever was slapped could hardly have had a better time. 1 
can understand the success with which you bullied the 
other girls : your virtue imposed on them. But tell me 
this : did you ever know a good boy? 

ANN. Of course. All boys are foolish sometimes ; but 
Tavy was always a really good boy. 

TANNER [struck hy this] Yes : youre right. For some 
reason you never tempted Tavy. 

ANN. Tempted ! Jack ! 

TANNER. Yes, my dear Lady Mephistopheles, tempted. 
You were insatiably curious as to what a boy might be 
capable of, and diabolically clever at getting through his 
guard and surprising his inmost secrets. 

32 Man and Superman Act I 

ANN. What nonsense ! All because you used to tell me 
long stones of the wicked things you had done — silly boy's 
tricks ! And you call such things inmost secrets ! Boy's 
secrets are just like men's; and you know what they are! 

TANNER {obstinatelf^ No I dont. What are they, pray? 

ANN. Why, the things they tell everybody, of course. 

TANNER. Now I swcar I told you things I told no one 
else. You lured me into a compact by which we were to 
have no secrets from one another. We were to tell one 
another everything. I didnt notice that you never told me 

ANN. You didnt want to talk about me, Jack. You wanted 
to talk about yourself. 

TANNER. Ah, true, horribly true. But what a devil of a 
child you must have been to know that weakness and to 
play on it for the satisfaction of your own curiosity ! I 
wanted to brag to you, to make myself interesting. And 
I found myself doing all sorts of mischievous things simply 
to have something to tell you about, I fought with boys I 
didnt hate ; I lied about things I might just as well have 
told the truth about ; I stole things I didnt want ; I kissed 
little girls I didnt care for. It was all bravado : passionless 
and therefore unreal. 

ANN. I never told of you, Jack, 

TANNER. No ; but if you had wanted to stop me you 
would have told of me. You wanted me to go on. 

ANN [flashing out'] Oh, thats not true: it's not true, 
Jack. I never wanted you to do those dull, disappointing, 
brutal, stupid, vulgar things. I always hoped that it would 
be something really heroic at last. [Recovering herself] Ex- 
cuse me. Jack ; but the things you did were never a bit like 
the things I wanted you to do. They often gave me great 
uneasiness ; but I could not tell of you and get you into 
trouble. And you were only a boy. I knew you would grow 
out of them. Perhaps I was wrong. 

TANNER [sardonically] Do not give way to remorse, Ann. 
At least nineteen twentieths of the exploits I confessed to 

Act I Man and Superman 33 

you were pure lies. I soon noticed that you didnt like the 
true stories. 

ANN. Of course I knew that some of the things couldnt 
have happened. But — 

TANNER. You are going to remind me that some of the 
most disgraceful ones did. 

ANN [fondly^ to his great terror'] I dont want to remind 
you of anything. But I knew the people they happened to, 
and heard about them. 

TANNER. Yes ; but even the true stories were touched up 
for telling. A sensitive boy's humiliations may be very good 
fun for ordinary thickskinned grown-ups; but to the boy 
himself they are so acute, so ignominious, that he cannot 
confess them — cannot but deny them passionately. How- 
ever, perhaps it was as well for me that I romanced a bit ; for, 
on the one occasion when I told you the truth, you threatened 
to tell of me. 

ANN. Oh, never. Never once. 

TANNER. Yes, you did. Do you remember a dark-eyed 
girl named Rachel Rosetree.? \^Ann*s brows contract for an 
instant involuntarily]. I got up a love affair with her j and 
we met one night in the garden and walked about very un- 
comfortably with our arms round one another, and kissed 
at parting, and were most conscientiously romantic. If that 
love affair had gone on, it would have bored me to death; 
but it didnt go on ; for the next thing that happened was 
that Rachel cut me because she found out that I had told 
you. How did she find it out.'' From you. You went to her 
and held the guilty secret over her head, leading her a life 
of abject terror and humiliation by threatening to tell on her. 

ANN. And a very good thing for her, too. It was my 
duty to stop her misconduct ; and she is thankful to me for 
it now. 

TANNER. Is she? 

ANN. She ought to be, at all events. 
TANNER. It was not your duty to stop my misconduct, I 

34 Man and Superman Act I 

ANN. I did stop it by stopping her. 

TANNER. Are you sure of that ? You stopped my telling 
you about my adventures ; but how do you know that you 
stopped the adventures? 

ANN. Do you mean to say that you went on in the same 
way with other girls? 

TANNER. No. I had enough of that sort of romantic tom- 
foolery with Rachel. 

ANN \unconvinced'\ Then why did you break off our con- 
fidences and become quite strange to me ? 

TANNER [enigmatically'] It happened just then that I got 
something that I wanted to keep all to myself instead of 
sharing it with you. 

ANN. I am sure I shouldnt have asked for any of it if you 
had grudged it. 

TANNER. It wasnt a box of sweets, Ann. It was some- 
thing youd never have let me call my own. 

ANN [incredulously'] What? 

TANNER. My soul. 

ANN. Oh, do be sensible, Jack. You know youre talking 

TANNER. The most solemn earnest, Ann. You didnt 
notice at that time that you were getting a soul too. But 
you were. It was not for nothing that you suddenly found 
you had a moral duty to chastise and reform Rachel. Up 
to that time you had traded pretty ext-ensively in being a 
good child ; but you had never set up a sense of duty to 
others. Well, I set one up too. Up to that time I had played 
the boy buccaneer with no more conscience than a fox in 
a poultry farm. But now I began to have scruples, to feel 
obligations, to find that veracity and honor were no longer 
goody-goody expressions in the mouths of grown up people, 
but compelling principles in myself. 

ANN [quietly] Yes, I suppose youre right. You were be- 
ginning to be a man, and I to be a woman. 

TANNER, Are you sure it was not that we were beginning 
to be something more ? What does the beginning of man- 

Act I Man and Superman 35 

hood and womanhood mean in most people's mouths? You 
know : it means the beginning of love. But love began 
long before that for me. Love played its part in the earliest 
dreams and follies and romances I can remember — may I 
say the earliest follies and romances we can remember? — 
though we did not understand it at the time. No : the 
change that came to me was the birth in me of moral 
passion ; and I declare that according to my experience 
moral passion is the only real passion. 

ANN. All passions ought to be moral, Jack. 

TANNER. Ought ! Do you think that anything is strong 
enough to impose oughts on a passion except a stronger 
passion still ? 

ANN. Our moral sense controls passion, Jack. Dont be 

TANNER. Our moral sense ! And is that not a passion ? 
Is the devil to have all the passions as well as all the good 
tunes ? If it were not a passion — if it were not the mightiest 
of the passions, all the other passions would sweep it away 
like a leaf before a hurricane. It is the birth of that passion 
that turns a child into a man. 

ANN. There are other passions. Jack. Very strong ones. 

TANNER. All the other passions were in me before ; but 
they were idle and aimless — mere childish greedinesses and 
cruelties, curiosities and fancies, habits and superstitions, 
grotesque and ridiculous to the mature intelligence. When 
they suddenly began to shine like newly lit flames it was 
by no light of their own, but by the radiance of the dawn- 
ing moral passion. That passion dignified them, gave them 
conscience and meaning, found them a mob of appetites 
and organized them into an army of purposes and principles. 
My soul was born of that passion. 

ANN. I noticed that you got more sense. You were a 
dreadfully destructive boy before that. 

TANNER. Destructive! Stufi^! I was only mischievous. 

ANN. Oh Jack, you were very destructive. You ruined 
all the young fir trees by chopping off their leaders with a 

36 Man and Superman Act I 

wooden sword. You broke all the cucumber frames with 
your catapult. You set fire to the common : the police 
arrested Tavy for it because he ran away when he couldnt 
stop you. You — 

TANNER. Pooh ! pooh ! pooh ! these were battles, bom- 
bardments, stratagems to save our scalps from the red Indians. 
You have no imagination, Ann. I am ten times more de- 
structive now than I was then. The moral passion has taken 
my destructiveness in hand and directed it to moral ends. I 
have become a reformer, and, like all reformers, an icono- 
clast. I no longer break cucumber frames and burn gorse 
bushes : I shatter creeds and demolish idols. 

ANN [l>ore^] I am afraid I am too feminine to see any 
sense in destruction. Destruction can only destroy. 

TANNER. Yes. That is why it is so useful. Construction 
cumbers the ground with institutions made by busybodies. 
Destruction clears it and gives us breathing space and 

ANN. Its no use. Jack. No woman will agree with you 

TANNER. Thats because you confuse construction and 
destruction with creation and murder. Theyre quite dif- 
ferent : I adore creation and abhor murder. Yes : I adore 
it in tree and flower, in bird and beast, even in you. [J 
flush of interest and delight suddenly chases the growing per- 
plexity and boredom from her face\ It was the creative in- 
stinct that led you to attach me to you by bonds that have 
left their mark on me to this day. Yes, Ann : the old 
childish compact between us was an unconscious love com- 
pact — 

ANN. Jack ! 

TANNER. Oh, dont be alarmed — 

ANN. I am not alarmed. 

TANNER [whimsically'] Then you ought to be : where are 
your principles } 

ANN. Jack : are you serious or are you not ? 

TANNER. Do you mean about the moral passion } 

Act I Man and Superman 37 

ANN. No, no ; the other one. [Confused^ Oh ! you are 
so silly : one never knows how to take you. 

TANNER. You Hiust take me quite seriously. I am your 
guardian ; and it is my duty to improve your mind. 

ANN. The love compact is over, then, is it? I suppose 
you grew tired of me ? 

TANNER. No ; but thc moral passion made our childish 
relations impossible. A jealous sense of my new individuality 
arose in me — 

ANN. You hated to be treated as a boy any longer. Poor 

TANNER. Yes, because to be treated as a boy was to be 
taken on the old footing. I had become a new person ; and 
those who knew the old person laughed at me. The only 
man who behaved sensibly was my tailor : he took my 
measure anew every time he saw me, whilst all the rest went 
on with their old measurements and expected them to fit 

ANN. You became frightfully self-conscious. 

TANNER. When you go to heaven, Ann, you will be 
frightfully conscious of your wings for the first year or so. 
When you meet your relatives there, and they persist in 
treating you as if you were still a mortal, you will not be 
able to bear them. You will try to get into a circle which 
has never known you except as an angel. 

ANN. So it was only your vanity that made you run 
away from us after all ? 

TANNER. Yes, only my vanity, as you call it. 

ANN. You need not have kept away from me on that 

TANNER. From you above all others. You fought harder 
than anybody against my emancipation. 

ANN [earnestly'] Oh, how wrong you arc ! I would have 
done anything for you. 

TANNER. Anything except let me get loose from you. 
Even then you had acquired by instinct that damnable 
woman's trick of heaping obligations on a man, of placing 

38 Man and Superman Act I 

yourself so entirely and helplessly at his mercy that at last 
he dare not take a step without running to you for leave. 
I know a poor wretch whose one desire in life is to run 
away from his wife. She prevents him by threatening to 
throw herself in front of the engine of the train he leaves 
her in. That is what all women do. If we try to go where 
you do not v/ant us to go there is no law to prevent us ; 
but when we take the first step your breasts are under our 
foot as it descends : your bodies are under our wheels as 
we start. No woman shall ever enslave mc in that way. 

ANN. But, Jack, you cannot get through life without 
considering other people a little. 

TANNER. Ay; but what other people? It is this con- 
sideration of other people — or rather this cowardly fear of 
them which we call consideration — that makes us the 
sentimental slaves we are. To consider you, as you call 
it, is to substitute your will for my own. How if it be a 
baser will than mine ? Are women taught better than men 
or worse.'' Are mobs of voters taught better than statesmen 
or worse ? Worse, of course, in both cases. And then what 
sort of world are you going to get, with its public men con- 
sidering its voting mobs, and its private men considering 
their wives? What does Church and State mean nowa- 
days ? The Woman and the Ratepayer. 

ANN [placidly'] I am so glad you understand politics, 
Jack : it will be so useful to you if you go into parliament 
\^he collapses like a pricked bladder]. But I am sorry you 
thought my influence a bad one. 

TANNER. I dont say it was a bad one. But bad or good, 
I didnt choose to be cut to your measure. And I wont be 
cut to it. 

ANN. Nobody wants you to, Jack. I assure you — really 
on my word — I dont mind your queer opinions one little 
bit. You know we have all been brought up to have 
advanced opinions. Why do you persist in thinking me 
so narrow minded ? 

TANNER. Thats the danger of it. 1 know you dont mind, 

Act I Man and Superman 39 

because youve found out that it doesnt matter. The boa 
constrictor doesnt mind the opinions of a stag one little 
bit when once she has got her coils round it. 

ANN [rising i?i sudden enlightenment'] O-o-o-o-oh ! now I 
understand why you warned Tavy that I am a boa con- 
strictor. Granny told me. [Sh laughs and throws her boa 
round his neck]. Doesnt it feel nice and soft, Jack? 

TANNER [in the toils] You scandalous woman, will you 
throw away even your hypocrisy ? 

ANN. I am never hypocritical with you, Jack. Are you 
angry? [She withdraws the boa and throws it on a chair]. 
Perhaps I shouldnt have done that. 

TANNER [contemptuously] Pooh, prudery ! Why should 
you not, if it amuses you ? 

ANN [-f^^i^] Well, because — because I suppose what you 
really meant by the boa constrictor was this [she puts her 
arms round his neck], 

TANNER [staring at her] Magnificent audacity ! [She 
laughs and pats his cheeks]. Now just to think that if I 
mentioned this episode not a soul would believe me except 
the people who would cut me for telling, whilst if you 
accused me of it nobody would believe my denial ! 

ANN [taking her arms away with perfect dignity] You 
are incorrigible. Jack. But you should not jest about our 
affection for one another. Nobody could possibly mis- 
understand it. You do not misunderstand it, I hope. 

TANNER. My blood interprets for me, Ann. Poor Ricky 
Ticky Tavy ! 

ANN [looking quickly at him as if this were a new light] 
Surely you are not so absurd as to be jealous of Tavy. 

TANNER. Jealous! Why should I be? But I dont wonder 
at your grip of him. I feel the coils tightening round my 
very self, though you are only playing with me. 

ANN. Do you think I have designs on Tavy? 

TANNER, I know you have. 

ANN [earnestly] Take care. Jack. You may make Tavy 
very unhappy if you mislead him about me. 

40 Man and Superman Act I 

TANNER. Never fear : he will not escape you. 

ANN. I wonder are you really a clever man ! 

TANNER. Why this sudden misgiving on the subject? 

ANN. You seem to understand all the things I dont 
understand ; but you are a perfect baby in the things I do 

TANNER. I understand how Tavy feels for you, Ann : 
you may depend on that, at all events. 

ANN. And you think you understand how I feel for 
Tavy, dont you ? 

TANNER. I know Only too well what is going to happen 
to poor Tavy. 

ANN. I should laugh at you, Jack, if it were not for 
poor papa's death. Mind ! Tavy will be very unhappy. 

TANNER. Yes; but he wont know it, poor devil. He is 
a thousand times too good for you. Thats why he is going 
to make the mistake of his life about you. 

ANN. I think men make more mistakes by being too 
clever than by being too good [s/}e sits down, with a trace of 
contempt for the whole male sex in the elegant carriage of her 

TANNER. Oh, I know you dont care very much about 
Tavy. But there is always one who kisses and one who 
only allows the kiss. Tavy will kiss ; and you will only 
turn the cheek. And you will throw him over if anybody 
better turns up. 

ANN. \offended'\ You have no right to say such things. 
Jack. They are not true, and not delicate. If you and 
Tavy choose to be stupid about me, that is not my fault. 

TANNER \remorsefullf\ Forgive my brutalities, Ann. They 
are levelled at this wicked world, not at you. \^8he looks up 
at him, pleased and forgiving. He becomes cautious at once]. 
All the same, I wish Ramsden would come back. I never 
feel safe with you : there is a devilish charm — or no : not 
a charm, a subtle interest [she laughs] — Just so: you 
know it ; and you triumph in it. Openly and shamelessly 
triumph in it '. 

Act I Man and Superman 41 

ANN. What a shocking flirt you are, Jack ! 

TANNER. A flirt ! ! I ! ! ! 

ANN. Yes, a flirt. You are always abusing and offending 
people; but you never really mean to let go your hold of 

TANNER. I will ring the bell. This conversation has 
already gone further than I intended. 

Ramsden and Octavius come back with Miss Ramsden, a 
hardheaded old maiden lady in a plain brown silk gown^ with 
enough rings^ chains and brooches to shew that her plainness of 
dress is a matter of principle^ not of poverty. She comes into 
the room very determinedly : the two men^ perplexed and down- 
cast., following her. Ann rises and goes eagerly to meet her. 
Tanner retreats to the wall between the busts and pretends to 
study the pictures. Ramsden goes to his table as usual; and 
Octavius clings tS the neighborhood of Tanner. 

MISS RAMSDEN [almost pushing Ann aside as she comes to 
Mrs Whitefield^s chair and plants herself there resolutely^ I 
wash my hands of the whole aff^air. 

ocTAVius \z'ery wretched'\ I know you wish me to take 
Violet away, Miss Ramsden. I will. \He turns irresolutely 
to the door\ 


MISS RAMSDEN. What IS the use of saying no, Roebuck ? 
Octavius knows that I would not turn any truly contrite 
and repentant woman from your doors. But when a 
woman is not only wicked, but intends to go on being 
wicked, she and I part company. 

ANN. Oh, Miss Ramsden, what do you mean? What 
has Violet said ? 

RAMSDEN. Violet IS Certainly very obstinate. She wont 
l^ave London. I dont understand her. 

MISS RAMSDEN. I do. It's as plain as the nose on your 
face, Roebuck, that she wont go because she doesnt want 
to be separated from this man, whoever he is. 

ANN. Oh, surely, surely! Octavius: did you speak to her? 

OCTAVIUS. She wont tell us anything. She wont make 

42 Man and Superman Act I 

any arrangement until she has consulted somebody. It cant 
be anybody else than the scoundrel who has betrayed her. 

TANNER [fo Octavius] Well, let her consult him. He 
will be glad enough to have her sent abroad. Where is the 

Miss RAMSDEN [taking the a?iswer out of Octavius^s mout/i] 
The difficulty, Mr Jack, is that when I offered to help her 
I didnt offer to become her accomplice in her wickedness. 
She either pledges her word never to see that man again, or 
else she finds some new friends ; and the sooner the better. 

The parlormaid appears at the door. Ann hastily resumes her 
seat^ and looks as unconcer?ied as possible. Octavius instinctively 
imitates her. 

THE MAID. The cab is at the door, maam. 

MISS RAMSDEN. What cab } 

THE MAID. For Miss Robinson. 

MISS RAMSDEN. Oh! [Recovering herselfl AW Ti^t. [The 
maid withdraws^ She has sent for a cab. 

TANNER. / wanted to send for that cab half an hour ago. 

MISS RAMSDEN. I am glad she understands the position she 
has placed herself in. 

RAMSDEN. I dont Hkc her going away in this fashion, 
Susan. We had better not do anything harsh. 

OCTAVIUS. No: thank you again and again; but Miss 
Ramsden is quite right. Violet cannot expect to stay. 

ANN. Hadnt you better go with her, Tavy ? 

OCTAVIUS. She wont have me. 

MISS RAMSDEN. Of coursc shc wont. Shes going straight 
to that man. 

TANNER. As a natural result of her virtuous reception 

RAMSDEN [much troubkd^ There, Susan ! You hear ! and 
theres some truth in it. I wish you could reconcile it with 
your principles to be a little patient with this poor girl. 
Shes very young ; and theres a time for everything. 

MISS RAMSDEN. Oh, she will get all the sympathy she 
wants from the men. I'm surprised at you, Roebuck. 

Act I Man and Superman 43 

TANNER. So am I, Ramsden, most favorably. 

Violet appears at the door. She is as impenitent and self- 
possessed a young lady as one would desire to see among the best 
behaved of her sex. Her small head and tiny resolute mouth and 
chin ; her haughty crispness of speech and trimness of carriage ; 
the ruthless elegance of her equipment^ which includes a very 
smart hat with a dead bird in it, mark a personality which is as 
formidable as it is exquisitely pretty. She is not a siren, like 
Ann: admiration comes to her without any compulsion or even 
interest on her part; besides, there is some fun in Ann, but in 
this woman none, perhaps no mercy either: if anythijig restrains 
her, it is intelligence and pride, not compassion. Her voice might 
be the voice of a schoolmistress addressing a class of girls who had 
disgraced themselves, as she proceeds with complete composure and 
some disgust to say what she has come to say, 

VIOLET. I have only looked in to tell Miss Ramsden that 
she will find her birthday present to me, the filagree brace- 
let, in the housekeeper's room. 

TANNER. Do come in, Violet, and talk to us sensibly. 

VIOLET. Thank you : I have had quite enough of the 
family conversation this morning. So has your mother, 
Ann : she has gone home crying. But at all events, I have 
found out what some of my pretended friends are worth. 
Good bye. 

TANNER. No, no : one moment. I have something to say 
which I beg you to hear. \_Ske looks at him without the 
slightest curiosity, but waits, apparently as much to finish getting 
her glove on as to hear what he has to say\ I am altogether on 
your side in this matter. I congratulate you, with the sin- 
cerest respect, on having the courage to do what you have 
done. You are entirely in the right ; and the family is 
entirely in the wrong. 

Sensation. Ann and Miss Ramsden rise and turn towards 
the two. Violet, more surprised than any of the others, forgets 
her glove, and comes forward into the middle of the room, both 
puzzled and displeased. Octavius alone does not move nor raise 
his head: he is overwhelmed with shame. 

44 Man and Superman Act I 

ANN \f leading to Tanner to be sensible^ Jack ! 

MISS RAMSDEN ^outragcd^ Well, I must say ! 

VIOLET \sharply to Tanner] Who told you ? 

TANNER. Why, Ramsden and Tavy of course. Why 
should they not? 

VIOLET. But they dont know. 

TANNER. Dont know what? 

VIOLET. They dont know that I am in the right, I mean. 

TANNER. Oh, they know it in their hearts, though they 
think themselves bound to blame you by their silly super- 
stitions about morality and propriety and so forth. But I 
know, and the whole world really knows, though it dare 
not say so, that you were right to follow your instinct ; that 
vitality and bravery are the greatest qualities a woman can 
have, and motherhood her solemn initiation into woman- 
hood ; and that the fact of your not being legally married 
matters not one scrap either to your own worth or to our 
real regard for you. 

VIOLET [flushing with indignation] Oh ! You think me a 
wicked woman, like the rest. You think I have not only 
been vile, but that I share your abominable opinions. Miss 
Ramsden : I have borne your hard words because I knew 
you would be sorry for them when you found out the truth. 
But I wont bear such a horrible insult as to be compli- 
mented by Jack on being one of the wretches of whom he 
approves. I have kept my marriage a secret for my husband's 
sake. But now I claim my right as a married woman 
not to be insulted. 

ocTAVius [raising his head with inexpressible relief] You are 
married ! 

VIOLET. Yes ; and I think you might have guessed it. 
What business had you all to take it for granted that I had 
no right to wear my wedding ring ? Not one of you even 
asked me : I cannot forget that. 

TANNER [in ruins] I am utterly crushed. I meant well. I 
apologize — abjectly apologize. 

VIOLET. I hope you will be more careful in future about 

Act I Man and Superman 45 

the things you say. Of course one does not take them seri- 
ously ; but they are very disagreeable, and rather in bad 
taste, I think. 

TANNER [iozoing to the storm'\ I have no defence : I shall 
know better in future than to take any woman's part. We 
have all disgraced ourselves in your eyes, I am afraid, except 
Ann. She befriended you. For Ann's sake, forgive us. 

VIOLET. Yes : Ann has been very kind ; but then Ann 


MISS RAMSDEN \jtifflj\ And who, pray, is the gentleman 
who does not acknowledge his wife? 

VIOLET [promptly'] That is my business. Miss Ramsden, 
and not yours. I have my reasons for keeping my marriage 
a secret for the present. 

RAMSDEN. All I can say is that we are extremely sorry, 
Violet. I am shocked to think of how we have treated you. 

ocTAVius [awkwardly] I beg your pardon, Violet. I can 
say no more. 

MISS RAMSDEN [sttll loth to Surrender] Of course what you 
say puts a very different complexion on the matter. All the 
same, I owe it to myself — 

VIOLET [cutting her short] You owe me an apology, Miss 
Ramsden : thats what you owe both to yourself and to me. 
If you were a married woman you would not like sitting in 
the housekeeper's room and being treated like a naughty 
child by young girls and old ladies without any serious 
duties and responsibilities. 

TANNER. Dont hit us when we're down, Violet. We 
seem to have made fools of ourselves ; but really it was you 
who made fools of us. 

VIOLET. It was no business of yours. Jack, in any case. 

TANNER. No business of mine ! Why, Ramsden as good 
as accused me of being the unknown gentleman. 

Ramsden makes a frantic demonstration; but Violet's cool 
keen anger extinguishes it. 

VIOLET. You ! Oh, how infamous ! how abominable ! 

46 Man and Superman Act I 

how disgracefully you have all been talking about me! If 
my husband knew it he would never let me speak to any 
of you again. [Zt' Ramsden] I think you might have spared 
me that, at least. 

RAMSDEN. But I assurc you I never — at least it is a mon- 
strous perversion of something I said that — 

MISS RAMSDEN. You nccdut apologizc, Roebuck. She 
brought it all on herself. It is for her to apologize for hav- 
ing deceived us. 

VIOLET. I can make allowances for you, Miss Ramsden : 
you cannot understand how I feel on this subject, though 
I should have expected rather better taste from people of 
greater experience. However, I quite feel that you have 
placed yourselves in a very painful position ; and the most 
truly considerate thing for me to do is to go at once. Good 

She goes, leaving them staring. 

Miss RAMSDEN. Well, I must say ! 

RAMSDEN [plaintively'] I dont think she is quite fair to us. 

TANNER. You must cowcr before the wedding ring like 
the rest of us, Ramsden. The cup of our ignominy is full. 



On the carriage drive in the park of a country house near 
Richmond a motor car has broken down. It stands in front of 
a clump of trees round which t/)e drive sweeps to the house, 
which is partly visible through them : indeed Tanner, standing 
in the drive with the car on his right hand, could get an un- 
obstructed view of the west corner of the house on his left were 
he not far too much interested in a pair of supine legs in blue 
serge trousers which protrude from beneath the machine. He is 
watching them intently with bent back and hands supported on 
his knees. His leathern overcoat and peaked cap proclaim him 
one of the dismounted passengers. 

THE LEGS. Aha ! I got him. 

TANNER. All right now ? 

THE LEGS. Aw right now. 

Tanner stoops and takes the legs by the ankles, drawing 
their owner forth like a wheelbarrow, walking on his hands, 
with a hammer in his mouth. He is a young man in a neat suit 
of blue serge, clean shaven, dark eyed, square fingered, with 
short well brushed black hair and rather irregular sceptically 
turned eyebrows. When he is manipulating the car his move- 
ments are swift and sudden, yet attentive and deliberate. With 
Tdnner and Tanner's friends his manner is not in the least 
deferential, but cool and reticent, keeping them quite effectually 
at a distance whilst giving them no excuse for complaining of 
him. He has nevertheless a way of keeping his eye on them, 
and thaty too, rather cynically, like a man who knows the world 

48 Man and Superman Act II 

well from its seamy side. He speaks slowly and with a touch 
of sarcasm ; and as he does not at all affect the gentleman in 
his speech, it may be inferred that his smart appearance is a 
mark of respect to himself and his own class ^ not to that zohich 
employs him. 

He now gets into the car to test his machinery and put 
his cap and overcoat on again. Tanner takes off his leathern 
overcoat and pitches it into the car. The chauffeur [or auto- 
mohilist or motoreer or whatever England may presently decide 
to call him) looks round inquiringly in the act of stowing away 
his hammer. 

THE CHAUFFEUR. Had cnough of it, eh ? 

TANNER. I may as well walk to the house and stretch 
my legs and calm my nerves a little. [Looking at his watch'] 
I suppose you know that we have come from Hyde Park 
Corner to Richmond in twenty-one minutes. 

THE CHAUFFEUR. I'd ha done it under fifteen if I'd had 
a clear road all the way. 

TANNER. Why do you do it? Is it for love of sport or 
for the fun of terrifying your unfortunate employer ? 

THE CHAUFFEUR. What are you afraid of? 

TANNER. The police, and breaking my neck. 

THE CHAUFFEUR. Well, if you like easy going, you can 
take a bus, you know. Its cheaper. You pay me to save 
your time and give you the value of your thousand pound 
car. [He sits down calmly]. 

TANNER. I am the slave of that car and of you too. I 
dream of the accursed thing at night. 

THE CHAUFFEUR. Youll gct over that. If youre going 
up to the house, may I ask how long youre goin to stay 
there? Because if you mean to put in the whole morn- 
ing talkin to the ladies, I'll put the car in the stables and 
make myself comfortable. If not, I'll keep the car on the 
go about here til you come. 

TANNER. Better wait here. We shant be long. Theres 
a young American gentleman, a Mr Malone, who is driving 
Mr Robinson down in his new American steam car. 

Act II Man and Superman 49 

THE CHAUFFEUR [springing up and coming hastily out of 
the car to Tanner] American steam car ! Wot ! racin us 
down from London ! 

TANNER. Perhaps theyre here already. 

THE CHAUFFEUR. If I'd Icnown it! [With deep reproach] 
Why didnt you tell me, Mr Tanner? 

TANNER. Because Ive been told that this car is capable 
of 84 miles an hour; and I already know what you are 
capable of when there is a rival car on the road. No, 
Henry : there are things it is not good for you to know ; 
and this was one of them. However, cheer up : we are 
going to have a day after your own heart. The American 
is to take Mr Robinson and his sister and Miss Whitefield. 
We are to take Miss Rhoda. 

THE CHAUFFEUR [consokd, and musing on another matter 
Thats Miss Whitefield's sister, isnt it? 


THE CHAUFFEUR. And Miss Whitefield herself is goin 
in the other car? Not with you? 

TANNER. Why the devil should she come with me? Mr 
Robinson will be in the other car. [The Chauffeur looks at 
Tanner with cool incredulity, and turns to the car, whistling a 
popular air softly to himself. Tanner, a little annoyed, is about 
to pursue the subject when he hears the footsteps of Octavius 
on the gravel. Octavius is coming from the house, dressed for 
motoring, but without his overcoat]. Weve lost the race, 
thank Heaven : heres Mr Robinson. Well, Tavy, is the 
steam car a success ? 

OCTAVIUS. I think so. We came from Hyde Park Corner 
here in seventeen minutes. [The Chauffeur, furious, kicks 
the car with a groan of vexation]. How long were you? 

TANNER. Oh, about three quarters of an hour or so. 

THE CHAUFFEUR [remonstrating] Now, now, Mr Tanner, 
come now ! We could ha done it easy under fifteen. 

TANNER. By the way, let me introduce you. Mr 
Octavius Robinson : Mr Enry Straker. 

STRAKER. Pleased to meet you, sir. Mr Tanner is gittin 


50 Man and Superman Act ii 

at you with is Enry Straker, you know. You call it 
Henery. But I dont mind, bless you. 

TANNER. You think it's simply bad taste in me to chafF 
him, Tavy. But youre wrong. This man takes more 
trouble to drop his aitches than ever his father did to pick 
them up. It's a mark of caste to him. I have never met 
anybody more swollen with the pride of class than Enry is. 

STRAKER. Easy, easy ! A little moderation, Mr Tanner. 

TANNER. A little moderation, Tavy, you observe. You 
would tell me to draw it mild. But this chap has been 
educated. Whats more, he knows that we havnt. What 
was that Board School of yours, Straker ? 

STRAKER. Sherbrooke Road. 

TANNER. Sherbrooke Road ! Would any of us say Rugby ! 
Harrow ! Eton ! in that tone of intellectual snobbery ? 
Sherbrooke Road is a place where boys learn something : 
Eton is a boy farm where we are sent because we are 
nuisances at home, and because in after life, whenever a 
Duke is mentioned, we can claim him as an old school- 

STRAKER. You dout know nothing about it, Mr Tanner. 
It's not the Board School that does it : it's the Polytechnic. 

TANNER. His university, Octavius. Not Oxford, Cam- 
bridge, Durham, Dublin or Glasgow. Not even those 
Nonconformist holes in Wales. No, Tavy. Regent Street, 
Chelsea, the Borough — I dont know half their confounded 
names : these are his universities, not mere shops for sell- 
ing class limitations like ours. You despise Oxford, Enry, 
dont you ? 

STRAKER. No, I dont. Very nice sort of place, Oxford, 
I should think, for people that like that sort of place. 
They teach you to be a gentleman there. In the Poly- 
technic they teach you to be an engineer or such like. See ? 

TANNER. Sarcasm, Tavy, sarcasm ! Oh, if you could 
only see into Enry's soul, the depth of his contempt for a 
gentleman, the arrogance of his pride in being an engineer, 
would appal you. He positively likes the car to break 

Act II Man and Superman 51 

down because it brings out my gentlemanly helplessness 
and his workmanlike skill and resource. 

STRAKER. Never you mind him, Mr Robinson. He likes 
to talk. We know him, dont we? 

ocTAVius [earnestly'] But theres a great truth at the 
bottom of what he says. I believe most intensely in the 
dignity of labor. 

STRAKER [unimpressed] Thats because you never done 
any, Mr Robinson. My business is to do away with labor. 
Youll get more out of me and a machine than you 
will out of twenty laborers, and not so much to drink 

TANNER. For Heaven's sake, Tavy, dont start him on 
political economy. He knows all about it; and we dont. 
Youre only a poetic Socialist, Tavy : hes a scientific one. 

STRAKER [unperturbed] Yes. Well, this conversation is 
very improvin ; but Ive got to look after the car ; and you 
two want to talk about your ladies. / know. [He retires to 
busy himself about the car; and presently saunters off towards 
the house]. 

TANNER. Thats a very momentous social phenomenon. 

OCTAVIUS. What is? 

TANNER. Straker is. Here have we literary and cultured 
persons been for years setting up a cry of the New Woman 
whenever some unusually old fashioned female came along; 
and never noticing the advent of the New Man. Straker's 
the New Man. 

OCTAVIUS. I see nothing new about him, except your 
way of chaffing him. But I dont want to talk about him 
just now. I want to speak to you about Ann. 

TANNER. Straker knew even that. He learnt it at the 
Polytechnic, probably. Well, what about Ann ? Have you 
proposed to her? 

OCTAVIUS [self -reproachfully] I was brute enough to do so 
last night. 

TANNER. Brute enough ! What do you mean ? 

OCTAVIUS [dithyr ami ic ally] Jack : we men are all coarse : 

52 Man and Superman Act II 

we never understand how exquisite a woman's sensibilities 
are. How could I have done such a thing ! 

TANNER. Done what, you maudlin idiot ? 

ocTAVius. Yes, I am an idiot. Jack : if you had heard 
her voice ! if you had seen her tears I I have lain awake all 
night thinking of them. If she had reproached me, I could 
have borne it better. 

TANNER. Tears ! thats dangerous. What did she say ? 

OCTAVIUS. She asked me how she could think of any- 
thing now but her dear father. She stifled a sob — [/v 
breaks down]. 

TANNER \^patting him on the hack] Bear it like a man, 
Tavy, even if you feel it like an ass. It's the old game : 
shes not tired of playing with you yet. 

OCTAVIUS [impatiently] Oh, dont be a fool, Jack. Do you 
suppose this eternal shallow cynicism of yours has any real 
bearing on a nature like hers ? 

TANNER. Hm ! Did she say anything else ? 

OCTAVIUS. Yes ; and that is why I expose myself and 
her to your ridicule by telling you what passed. 

TANNER [remorsefully] No, dear Tavy, not ridicule, on 
my honor ! However, no matter. Go on. 

OCTAVIUS. Her sense of duty is so devout, so perfect, 
so — 

TANNER. Yes : I know. Go on. 

OCTAVIUS. You see, under this new arrangement, you 
and Ramsden are her guardians ; and she considers that all 
her duty to her father is now transferred to you. She said 
she thought I ought to have spoken to you both in the 
first instance. Of course she is right ; but somehow it 
seems rather absurd that I am to come to you and formally 
ask to be received as a suitor for your ward's hand. 

TANNER. I am glad that love has not totally extinguished 
your sense of humor, Tavy. 

OCTAVIUS. That answer wont satisfy her. 

TANNER. My official answer is, obviously, Bless you, my 
children : may you be happy ! 

Act II Man and Superman 53 

ocTAVius. I wish you would stop playing the fool about 
this. If it is not serious to you, it is to me, and to her. 

TANNER. You Icnow vcrv well that she is as free to choose 
as you are. 

OCTAVIUS. She docs not think so. 

TANNER. Oh, doesnt she ! just ! However, say what you 
want me to do.? 

OCTAVIUS. I want you to tell her sincerely and earnestly 
what you think about me. I want you to tell her that you 
can trust her to me — that is, if you feel you can. 

TANNER. I have no doubt that I can trust her to you. 
What worries me is the idea of trusting you to her. Have 
you read Maeterlinck's book about the bee.? 

OCTAVIUS [keeping his temper with difficultyl I am not dis- 
cussing literature at present. 

TANNER. Be just a little patient with mc. / am not dis- 
cussing literature : the book about the bee is natural history. 
It's an awful lesson to mankind. You think that you are 
Ann's suitor ; that you are the pursuer and she the pursued ; 
that it is your part to woo, to persuade, to prevail, to over- 
come. Fool : it is you who are the pursued, the marked 
down quarry, the destined prey. You need not sit looking 
longingly at the bait through the wires of the trap : the door 
is open, and will remain so until it shuts behind you for ever. 

OCTAVIUS. I wish I could believe that, vilely as you put it. 

TANNER. Why, man, what other work has she in life 
but to get a husband.? It is a woman's business to get 
married as soon as possible, and a man's to keep unmarried 
as long as he can. You have your poems and your tragedies 
to work at : Ann has nothing. 

OCTAVIUS. I cannot write without inspiration. And no- 
body can give me that except Ann. 

TANNER. Well, hadnt you better get it from her at a 
safe distance.? Petrarch didnt see half as much of Laura, 
nor Dante of Beatrice, as you see of Ann now ; and yet they 
wrote first-rate poetry — at least so Im told. They never 
exposed their idolatry to the test of domestic familiarity ; 

54 Man and Superman Act II 

and it lasted them to their graves. Marry Ann ; and at 
the end of a week youU find no more inspiration in her 
than in a plate of muffins. 

ocTAVius. You think I shall tire of her ! 

TANNER. Not at all : you dont get tired of muffins. But 
you dont find inspiration in them ; and you wont in her 
when she ceases to be a poet's dream and becomes a solid 
eleven stone wife. Youll be forced to dream about some- 
body else ; and then there will be a row. 

OCTAVIUS. This sort of talk is no use, Jack. You dont 
understand. You have never been in love. 

TANNER. I ! I have never been out of it. Why, I am in 
love even with Ann. But I am neither the slave of love nor 
its dupe. Go to the bee, thou poet : consider her ways and 
be wise. By Heaven, Tavy, if women could do without 
our work, and we ate their children's bread instead of mak- 
ing it, they would kill us as the spider kills her mate or as 
the bees kill the drone. And they would be right if we 
were good for nothing but love. 

OCTAVIUS. Ah, if we were only good enough for Love ! 
There is nothing like Love : there is nothing else but 
Love : without it the world would be a dream of sordid 

TANNER. And this — this Is the man who asks me to 
give him the hand of my ward ! Tavy : I believe we were 
changed in our cradles, and that you are the real descend- 
ant of Don Juan. 

OCTAVIUS. I beg you not to say anything like that to 

TANNER. Dont be afraid. She has marked you for her 
own ; and nothing will stop her now. You are doomed. 
[Straker comes back with a newspaper']. Here comes the 
New Man, demoralizing himself with a halfpenny paper 
as usual. 

STRAKER. Now would you believe it, Mr Robinson, 
when we're out motoring we take in two papers, the 
Times for him, the Leader or the Echo for me. And do 

Act II Man and Superman 55 

you think I ever see my paper? Not much. He grabs the 
Leader and leaves me to stodge myself with his Times. 

ocTAVius. Are there no winners in the Times ? 

TANNER. Enry dont old with bettin, Tavy. Motor re- 
cords are his weakness. Whats the latest ? 

STRAKER. Paris to Biskra at forty mile an hour average, 
not countin the Mediterranean. 

TANNER. How mauv killed ? 

STRAKER. Two silly sheep. What does it matter? Sheep 
dont cost such a lot : they were glad to ave the price with- 
out the trouble o sellin em to the butcher. All the same, 
d'y'see, therell be a clamor agin it presently ; and then 
the French Government'll stop it ; an our chance'll be 
gone, see ? Thats what makes me fairly mad : Mr Tanner 
wont do a good run while he can. 

TANNER. Tavy: do you remember my uncle James? 

OCTAVIUS. Yes. Why? 

TANNER. Uncle James had a first rate cook : he couldnt 
digest anything except what she cooked. Well, the poor 
man was shy and hated society. But his cook was proud of 
her skill, and wanted to serve up dinners to princes and 
ambassadors. To prevent her from leaving him, that poor 
old man had to give a big dinner twice a month, and suffer 
agonies of awkwardness. Now here am I ; and here is this 
chap Enry Straker, the New Man. I loathe travelling ; but 
I rather like Enry. He cares for nothing but tearing along 
in a leather coat and goggles, with two inches of dust all 
over him, at sixty miles an hour and the risk of his life and 
mine. Except, of course, when he is lying on his back in 
the mud under the machine trying to find out where it has 
given way. Well, if I dont give him a thousand mile run 
at least once a fortnight I shall lose him. He will give me 
the sack and go to some American millionaire j and I shall 
have to put up with a nice respectful groom-gardener- 
amateur, who will touch his hat and know his place. I am 
Enry's slave, just as Uncle James was his cook's slave. 

STRAKER \exasperated'\ Gam ! I wish I had a car that 

56 Man and Superman Act ii 

would go as fast as you can talk, Mr Tanner. What I say is 
that you lose money by a motor car unless you keep it workin. 
Might as well have a pram and a nussmaid to wheel you in it 
as that car and me if you dont git the last inch out of us both. 

TANNER \joothingly'\ All right, Henry, all right. We'll go 
out for half an hour presently. 

STRAKER [in disgust] Arf an ahr ! [He returns to his 
machine ; seats himself in it ; and turns up a fresh page of his 
paper in search of more news']. 

ocTAVius. Oh, that reminds me. I have a note for you 
from Rhoda. [He gives Tanner a note]. 

TANNER [opening it] I rather think Rhoda is heading for 
a row with Ann. As a rule there is only one person an 
English girl hates more than she hates her mother ; and 
thats her eldest sister. But Rhoda positively prefers her 
mother to Ann. She — [indignantly] Oh, I say ! 

OCTAVIUS. Whats the matter? 

TANNER. Rhoda was to have come with me for a ride 
in the motor car. She says Ann has forbidden her to go 
out with me. 

Straker suddenly begins whistling his favorite air with re- 
markable deliberation. Surprised by this burst of larklike 
melody^ and jarred by a sardonic note in its cheerfulness, they 
turn and look inquiringly at him. But he is busy with his 
paper; and nothing comes of their movement. 

OCTAVIUS [recovering himself] Does she give any reason ? 

TANNER. Reason ! An insult is not a reason. Ann for- 
bids her to be alone with me on any occasion. Says I am 
not a fit person for a young girl to be with. What do you 
think of your paragon now ? 

OCTAVIUS. You must remember that she has a very heavy 
responsibility now that her father is dead. Mrs Whitelield 
is too weak to control Rhoda. 

TANNER [staring at him] In short, you agree with Ann. 

OCTAVIUS. No ; but I think I understand her. You must 
admit that your views are hardly suited for the formation 
of a young girl's mind and character. 

Act II Man and Superman 57 

TANNER. I admit nothing of the sort. I admit that the 
formation of a young lady's mind and character usually 
consists in telling her lies; but I object to the particular 
lie that I am in the habit of abusing the confidence of 

ocTAVius. Ann doesnt say that, Jack .'' 

TANNER. What else does she mean } 

STRAKER \_catching sight of Ann coming from the house\ 
Miss Whitefield, gentlemen. \He dismounts and strolls away 
down the avenue with the air of a man who knows he is no 
longer wanted^ 

ANN [coming between Octavius and Tanner"] Good morn- 
ing. Jack. I have come to tell you that poor Rhoda has got 
one of her headaches and cannot go out with you to-day 
in the car. It is a cruel disappointment to her, poor child ! 

TANNER. What do you say now, Tavy ? 

OCTAVIUS. Surely you cannot misunderstand, Jack. Ann is 
shewing you the kindest consideration, even at the cost of 
deceiving you. 

ANN. What do you mean ? 

TANNER. Would you Hkc to cure Rhoda's headache, Ann ? 

ANN. Of course. 

TANNER. Then tell her what you said just now; and 
add that you arrived about two minutes after I had received 
her letter and read it. 

ANN. Rhoda has written to you ! 

TANNER. With full particulars. 

OCTAVIUS. Never mind him, Ann. You were right — 
quite right. Ann was only doing her duty. Jack ; and you 
know it. Doing it in the kindest way, too. 

ANN [going to Octavius) How kind you are, Tavy ! How 
helpful ! How well you understand ! 

Octavius beams. 

TANNER. Ay : tighten the coils. You love her, Tavy, 
dont you ? 

OCTAVIUS. She knows I do. 

ANN. Hush. For shame, Tavy ! 

58 Man and Superman Act il 

TANNER. Oh, I give you leave. I am your guardian; 
and I commit you to Tavy's care for the next hour. I am 
ofF for a turn in the car. 

ANN. No, Jack. I must speak to you about Rhoda. 
Ricky : w^ill you go back to the house and entertain your 
American friend. Hes rather on. Mamma's hands so early 
in the morning. She wants to finish her housekeeping. 

ocTAVius. I fly, dearest Ann [Se kisses her hand']. 

ANN [tenderly] Ricky Ticky Tavy! 

He looks at her with an eloquent blush, and runs off, 

TANNER [bluntly] Now look here, Ann. This time youve 
landed yourself; and if Tavy were not in love with you 
past all salvation he'd have found out what an incorrigible 
liar you are. 

ANN. You misunderstand. Jack. I didnt dare tell Tavy 
the truth. 

TANNER. No : your daring is generally in the opposite 
direction. What the devil do you mean by telling Rhoda 
that I am too vicious to associate with her? How can I 
ever have any human or decent relations with her again, 
now that you have poisoned her mind in that abominable 

ANN. I know you are incapable of behaving badly — 

TANNER. Then why did you lie to her ? 

ANN. I had to. 

TANNER. Had to ! 

ANN. Mother made me. 

TANNER [his eye fashing] Ha ! I might have known it. 
The mother ! Always the mother ! 

ANN. It was that dreadful book of yours. You know 
how timid mother is. All timid women are conventional : 
we must be conventional. Jack, or we are so cruelly, so 
vilely misunderstood. Even you, who are a man, cannot 
say what you think without being misunderstood and vili- 
fied — yes : I admit it : I have had to vilify you. Do you 
want to have poor Rhoda misunderstood and vilified in 
the same way? Would it be right for mother to let her 

Act II Man and Superman 59 

expose herself to such treatment before she is old enough 
to judge for herself? 

TANNER. In short, the way to avoid misunderstanding 
is for everybody to lie and slander and insinuate and pre- 
tend as hard as they can. That is what obeying your 
mother comes to. 

ANN. I love my mother. Jack. 

TANNER [working himself up into a sociological ragel Is that 
any reason why you are not to call your soul your own ? 
Oh, I protest against this vile abjection of youth to age! 
Look at fashionable society as you know it. What does it 
pretend to be? An exquisite dance of nymphs. What is 
it? A horrible procession of wretched girls, each in the 
claws of a cynical, cunning, avaricious, disillusioned, ignor- 
antly experienced, foul-minded old woman whom she calls 
mother, and whose duty it is to corrupt her mind and sell 
her to the highest bidder. Why do these unhappy slaves 
marry anybody, however old and vile, sooner than not 
marry at all ? Because marriage is their only means of 
escape from these decrepit fiends who hide their selfish 
ambitions, their jealous hatreds of the young rivals who 
have supplanted them, under the mask of maternal duty 
and family affection. Such things are abominable : the 
voice of nature proclaims for the daughter a father's care 
and for the son a mother's. The law for father and son 
and mother and daughter is not the law of love : it is the 
law of revolution, of emancipation, of final supersession of 
the old and worn-out by the young and capable. I tell you, 
the first duty of manhood and womanhood is a Declaration 
of Independence : the man who pleads his father's autho- 
rity is no man : the woman who pleads her mother's autho- 
rity is unfit to bear citizens to a free people. 

ANN \watching him with quiet curiosity'\ I suppose you 
will go in seriously for politics some day. Jack. 

TANNER [heavily let ii own] Eh? What? Wh — ? [Collect- 
ing his scattered wits] What has that got to do with what I 
have been saying? 

6o Man and Superman Act il 

ANN. You talk so well, 

TANNER. Talk ! Talk ! It means nothing to you but talk. 
Well, go back to your mother, and help her to poison 
Rhoda's imagination as she has poisoned yours. It is the 
tame elephants who enjoy capturing the wild ones. 

ANN. I am getting on. Yesterday I was a boa con- 
strictor : to-day I am an elephant. 

TANNER. Yes. So pack your trunk and begone : I have 
no more to say to you. 

ANN. You are so utterly unreasonable and impracticable. 
What can I do ? 

TANNER. Do ! Break your chains. Go your way accord- 
ing to your own conscience and not according to your 
mother's. Get your mind clean and vigorous ; and learn 
to enjoy a fast ride in a motor car instead of seeing nothing 
in it but an excuse for a detestable intrigue. Come with 
me to Marseilles and across to Algiers and to Biskra, at 
sixty miles an hour. Come right down to the Cape if you 
like. That will be a Declaration of Independence with a 
vengeance. You can write a book about it afterwards. 
That will finish your mother and make a woman of 

ANN [thoughtfully'] I dont think there would be any harm 
in that. Jack. You are my guardian : you stand in my 
father's place, by his own wish. Nobody could say a word 
against our travelling together. It would be delightful : 
thank you a thousand times, Jack. I'll come. 

TANNER [aghast] Youll come ! ! ! 

ANN. Of course. 

TANNER. But — [he stops. Utterly appalled; then resumes 
feebly] No : look here, Ann : if theres no harm in it theres 
no point in doing it. 

ANN. How absurd you are ! You dont want to com- 
promise me, do you ? 

TANNER. Yes : thats the whole sense of my proposal. 

ANN. You are talking the greatest nonsense; and you 
know it. You would never do anything to hurt me. 

Act II Man and Superman 6i 

TANNER. Well, if you dont want to be compromised, 
dont come. 

ANN [with simple earnestness'] Yes, I will come, Jack, 
since you wish it. You are my guardian ; and I think we 
ought to see more of one another and come to know one 
another better. \Gratefullj\ It's very thoughtful and very 
kind of you. Jack, to offer me this lovely holiday, especi- 
ally after what I said about Rhoda. You really are good — 
much better than you think. When do we start ? 


The conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Mrs 
Whitejield from the house. She is accompanied by the American 
gentleman., and followed by Rams den and Octavius. 

Hector Malone is an Eastern American; but he is not at 
all ashamed of his nationality. This makes English people of 
fashion think well of him., as of a young fellow who is manly 
enough to confess to an obvious disadvantage without any 
attempt to conceal or extenuate it. They feel that he ought 
not to be made to sujfer for what is clearly not his faulty and 
make a point of being specially kind to him. His chivalrous 
manners to women., and his elevated moral sentiments, being 
both gratuitous and unusual, strike them as perhaps a little un- 
fortunate; and though they find his vein of easy humor rather 
amusing when it has ceased to puzzle them {as it does at first)., 
they have had to make him understand that he really must not 
tell anecdotes unless they are strictly personal and scandalous., 
and also that oratory is an accomplishment which belongs to a 
cruder stage of civilization than that in which his migration 
has landed him. On these points Hector is not quite convinced: 
he still thinks that the British are apt to make merits of their 
stupidities., and to represent their various incapacities as points 
of good breeding. English life seems to him to suffer from a 
lack of edifying rhetoric {which he calls moral tone) ; English 
behavior to skew a want of respect for womanhood; English 
pronunciation to fail very vulgarly in tackling such words as 
world., girl., bird., etc.; English society to be plain spoken to an 
extent which stretches occasionally to intolerable coarseness ; and 

62 Man and Superman Act ii 

English intercourse to need enlivening by games and stories and 
other pastimes ; so he does not feel called upon to acquire these 
defects after taking great pains to cultivate himself in a first 
rate manner before venturing across the Atlantic. To this 
culture he finds English people either totally indifferent^ as 
they very commonly are to all culture^ or else politely evasive^ 
the truth being that Hectares culture is nothing but a state of 
saturation with our literary exports of thirty years ago, reim- 
ported by him to be unpacked at a moments notice and hurled 
at the head of English literature, science and art, at every 
conversational opportunity. The dismay set up by these sallies 
encourages him in his belief that he is helping to educate England, 
When he finds people chattering harmlessly about Anatole France 
and Nietzsche, he devastates them with Matthew Arnold, the 
Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, and even Macaulay ; and as 
he is devoutly religious at bottom, he first leads the unwary, by 
humorous irreverence, to leave popular theology out of account 
in discussing moral questions with him, and then scatters them 
in confusion by demanding whether the carrying out of his ideals 
of conduct was not the manifest object of God Almighty in 
creating honest men and pure women. The engaging freshness 
of his personality and the dumbfoundering staleness of his culture 
make it extremely difficult to decide whether he is worth know- 
ing; for whilst his company is undeniably pleasant and en- 
livening, there is intellectually nothing new to be got out of 
him, especially as he despises politics, and is careful not to talk 
commercial shop, in which department he is probably much in 
advance of his English capitalist friends. He gets on best with 
romantic Christians of the amoristic sect: hence the friendship 
which has sprung up between him and Octavius. 

In appearance Hector is a neatly built young man of twenty - 
four, with a short, smartly trimmed black beard, clear, well 
shaped eyes, and an ingratiating vivacity of expression. He is, 
from the fashionable point of view, faultlessly dressed. As he 
comes along the drive from the house with Mrs Whitefield he 
is sedulously making himself agreeable and entertaining, and 
thereby placing on her slender wit a burden it is unable to bear. 

Act II Man and Superman 63 

An Englishman would let her alone^ accepting boredom and 
indifference as their common lot; and the poor lady wants to 
be either let alone or let prattle about the things that interest her. 

Rams den strolls over to inspect the motor car. Octavius 
joins Hector. 

ANN [pouncing on her mother joyously'\ Oh, mamma, what 
do you think ! Jack is going to take me to Nice in his 
motor car. Isnt it lovely? I am the happiest person in 

TANNER \desperately\ Mrs Whitefield objects. I am sure 
she objects. Doesnt she, Ramsden? 

RAMSDEN. I should think it very likely indeed. 

ANN. You dont object, do you, mother ? 

MRS WHITEFIELD. / objcct ! Why should I ? I think it 
will do you good, Ann. [Trotting over to Tanner^ I meant 
to ask you to take Rhoda out for a run occasionally : she 
is too much in the house ; but it will do when you come 

TANNER. Abyss beneath abyss of perfidy ! 

ANN [hastily^ to distract attention from this out bur st^ 
Oh, I forgot : you have not met Mr Malone. Mr Tanner, 
my guardian : Mr Hector Malone. 

HECTOR. Pleased to meet you, Mr Tanner. I should 
like to suggest an extension of the travelling party to 
Nice, if I may. 

ANN. Oh, we're all coming. Thats understood, isnt it ? 

HECTOR. I also am the mawdest possessor of a motor 
car. If Miss Rawbnsn will allow me the privilege of 
taking her, my car is at her service. 

OCTAVIUS. Violet ! 

General constraint. 

ANN [subduedly] Come, mother : we must leave them to 
talk over the arrangements. I must see to my travelling 

Mrs Whitefield looks bewildered; but Ann draws her dis- 
creetly away ; and they disappear round the corner towards the 

64 Man and Superman Act il 

HECTOR. I think I may go so far as to say that I can 
depend on Miss Rawbnsn's consent. 

Continued embarrassment, 

ocTAVius. I'm afraid we must leave Violet behind. 
There are circumstances which make it impossible for her 
to come on such an expedition. 

HECTOR \amused and not at all convinced^ Too American, 
eh ? Must the young lady have a chaperone ? 

OCTAVIUS. It's not that, Malone — at least not altogether. 

HECTOR. Indeed! May I ask what other objection 
applies ? 

TANNER [impatiently!^ Oh, tell him, tell him. We shall 
never be able to keep the secret unless everybody knows 
what it is. Mr Malone : if you go to Nice with Violet, 
you go with another man's wife. She is married. 

HECTOR [thunderstruck] You dont tell me so ! 

TANNER. We do. In confidence. 

RAMSDEN [with an air of importance^ lest Malone should 
suspect a misalliance] Her marriage has not yet been made 
known : she desires that it shall not be mentioned for the 

HECTOR. I shall respect the lady's wishes. Would it be 
indiscreet to ask who her husband is, in case I should have 
an opportunity of cawnsulting him about this trip. 

TANNER. We dont know who he is. 

HECTOR [retiring into his shell in a very marked manner] 
In that case, I have no more to say. 

They become more embarrassed than ever. 

ocTAVius. You must think this very strange. 

HECTOR. A little singular. Pardn mee for saying so. 

RAMSDEN [half apologetic^ half huffy] The young lady 
was married secretly ; and her husband has forbidden her, 
it seems, to declare his name. It is only right to tell you, 
since you are interested in Miss — er — in Violet. 

OCTAVIUS [sympathetically] I hope this is not a disappoint- 
ment to you. 

HECTOR [softened^ coming out of his shell again] Well : it 

Act II Man and Superman 65 

is a blow. I can hardly understand how a man can leave 
his wife in such a position. Surely it's not custoMary. It's 
not manly. It's not considerate. 

ocTAVius. We feel that, as you may imagine, pretty 

RAMSDEN [tesft/y] It is some young fool who has not 
enough experience to know what mystifications of this 
kind lead to. 

HECTOR [wifS strong symptoms of moral repugnance\ I hope 
so. A man need be very young and pretty foolish too to 
be excused for such conduct. You take a very lenient 
view, Mr Ramsden. Too lenient to my mind. Surely 
marriage should ennoble a man. 

TANNER \sardotiically~\ Ha ! 

HECTOR. Am I to gather from that cacchination that 
you dont agree with mc, Mr Tanner? 

TANNER \drily\ Get married and try. You may find it 
delightful for a while : you certainly wont find it ennobling. 
The greatest common measure of a man and a woman is 
not necessarily greater than the man's single measure. 

HECTOR. Well, we think in America that a woman's 
morl number is higher than a man's, and that the purer 
nature of a woman lifts a man right out of himself, and 
makes him better than he was. 

OCTAVIUS \witb coTivictiorf\ So it does. 

TANNER. No wonder American women prefer to live in 
Europe ! Its more comfortable than standing all their lives 
on an altar to be worshipped. Anyhow, Violet's husband 
has not been ennobled. So whats to be done ? 

HECTOR [shaking his head'\ I cant dismiss that man's 
cawnduct as lightly as you do, Mr Tanner. However, I'll say 
no more. Whoever he is, he's Miss Rawbnsn's husband ; 
and I should be glad for her sake to think better of him. 

OCTAVIUS [touched; for he divines a secret sorrow] I'm very 
sorry, Malone. Very sorry. 

HECTOR [gratefully] Youre a good fellow, Rawbnsn. 
Thank you, 


66 Man and Superman Act li 

TANNER. Talk about something else. Violet's coming 
from the house. 

HECTOR. I should esteem it a very great favor, gentle- 
men, if you would take the opportunity to let me have a 
few words with the lady alone. I shall have to cry off this 
trip ; and it's rather a duUicate — 

RAMSDEN l^lad to escape] Say no more. Come, Tanner. 
Come, Tavy. [He strolls away into the park zuith Octavius 
and Tanner^ past the motor car]. 

Fiolet comes down the avenue to Hector. 

VIOLET. Are they looking? 


She kisses him. 

VIOLET. Have you been telling lies for my sake ? 

HECTOR. Lying ! Lying hardly describes it. I overdo it. 
I get carried away in an ecstacy of mendacity. Violet : I 
wish youd let me own up. 

VIOLET [instantly becoming serious and resolute] No, no, 
Hector ; you promised me not to. 

HECTOR. I'll keep my prawmise until you release me from 
it. But I feel mean, lying to those men, and denying my 
wife. Just dastardly. 

VIOLET. I wish your father were not so unreasonable. 

HECTOR. Hes not unreasonable. Hcs right from his point 
of view. He has a prejudice against the English middle class. 

VIOLET. It's too ridiculous. You know how I dislike 
saying such things to you, Hector ; but if I were to — oh, 
well, no matter. 

HECTOR. I know. If you were to marry the son of an 
English manufacturer of awffice furniture, your friends 
would consider it a misalliance. And here's my silly old 
dad, who is the biggest awffice furniture man in the world, 
would shew me the door for marrying the most perfect 
lady in England merely because she has no handle to her 
name. Of course it's just absurd. But I tell you, Violet, I 
dont like deceiving him. I feel as if I was stealing his 
money. Why wont you let me own up ? 

Act II Man and Superman 67 

VIOLET. Wc cant afford it. You can be as romantic as 
you please about love, Hector ; but you mustnt be romantic 
about money. 

HECTOR [divided between his uxoriousness and his habitual 
elevation of moral sentiment'] Thats very English. [Appealing 
to her impulsively] Violet : dad's bound to find us out some- 

VIOLET. Oh yes, later on of course. But dont lets go 
over this every time we meet, dear. You promised — 

HECTOR. All right, all right, I — 

VIOLET [not to be silenced] It is I and not you who suffer 
by this concealment ; and as to facing a struggle and poverty 
and all that sort of thing I simply will not do it. It's too 

HECTOR. You shall not. I'll sort of borrow the money 
from my dad until I get on my own feet ; and then I can 
own up and pay up at the same time. 

VIOLET [alarmed and indignant] Do you mean to work ? 
Do you want to spoil our marriage ? 

HECTOR. Well, I dont mean to let marriage spoil my 
character. Your friend Mr Tanner has got the laugh on me 
a bit already about that ; and — 

VIOLET. The beast ! I hate Jack Tanner. 

HECTOR [magnanimously] Oh,hes all right : he only needs 
the love of a good woman to ennoble him. Besides, hes 
proposed a motoring trip to Nice ; and I'm going to take 

VIOLET. How jolly ! 

HECTOR. Yes; but how arc we going to manage? You 
sec, theyve warned me off going with you, so to speak. 
They ve told me in cawnfidnce that youre married. Thats 
just the most overwhelming cawnfidnce Ive ever been 
honored with. 

Tanner returns with Straker, who goes to his car. 

TANNER. Your Car is a great success, Mr Malone. Your 
engineer is showing it off to Mr Ramsden. 

HECTOR [eagerly — -forgetting himself] Lets come, Vi. 

68 Man and Superman Act ii 

VIOLET [coldly, warning him with her eyes'] I beg your 
pardon, Mr Malonc, I did not quite catch — 

HECTOR [recollecting himself] I ask to be allowed the 
pleasure of shewing you my little American steam car. 
Miss Rawbnsn. 

VIOLET. I shall be very pleased. [They go off together 
down the avenue], 

TANNER. About this trip, Straker. 

STRAKER [-preoccupied with the car] Yes ? 

TANNER. Miss Whitcficld is supposed to be coming with 

STRAKER. So I gather. 

TANNER. Mr Robinson is to be one of the party. 


TANNER. Well, if you can manage so as to be a good 
deal occupied with me, and leave Mr Robinson a good deal 
occupied with Miss Whitefield, he will be deeply grateful 
to you. 

STRAKER [looking round at him] Evidently. 

TANNER. "Evidently"! Your grandfather would have 
simply winked. 

STRAKER. My grandfather would have touched his at. 

TANNER. And I should have given your good nice respect- 
ful grandfather a sovereign. 

STRAKER. Five shilHus, more likely. [He leaves the car 
and approaches Tanner], What about the lady's views? 

TANNER. She is just as willing to be left to Mr Robinson 
as Mr Robinson is to be left to her. [Straker looks at his 
principal with cool scepticism; then turns to the car whistling 
his favorite air]. Stop that aggravating noise. What do you 
mean by it? [Straker calmly resumes the melody and finishes 
it. Tanner politely hears it out before he again addresses 
Straker^ this time with elaborate seriousness], Enry : I have 
ever been a warm advocate of the spread of music among 
the masses ; but I object to your obliging the company 
whenever Miss Whitefield's name is mentioned. You did it 
this morning, too. 

Act II Man and Superman 69 

STRAKER \obstinately\ It's not a bit o use. Mr Robinson 
may as well give it up first as last. 


STRAKER. Garn ! You know why. Course it's not my 
business; but you necdnt start kiddin me about it. 

TANNER. I am not kidding. I dont know why. 

STRAKER {cheerfully sulky\ Oh, very well. All right. It 
aint my business. 

TANNER [impressively'] I trust, Enry, that, as between 
employer and engineer, I shall always know how to keep 
my proper distance, and not intrude my private affairs on 
you. Even our business arrangements are subject to the 
approval of your Trade Union. But dont abuse your advan- 
tages. Let me remind you that Voltaire said that what was 
too silly to be said could be sung. 

STRAKER. It wasnt Voltaire : it was Bow Mar Shay. 

TANNER. I stand corrected : Beaumarchais of course. 
Now you seem to think that what is too delicate to be said 
can be whistled. Unfortunately your whistling, though 
melodious, is unintelligible. Come ! there's nobody listen- 
ing: neither my genteel relatives nor the secretary of your 
confounded Union. As man to man, Enry, why do you 
think that my friend has no chance with Miss Whiteficld? 

STRAKER. Cause shcs arter summun else. 

TANNER. Bosh ! who clsC ? 
TANNER. Mc ! ! ! 

STRAKER. Mean to tell me you didnt know? Oh, come, 
Mr Tanner! 

TANNER \in fierce earnest] Are you playing the fool, or do 
you mean it? 

STRAKER \with a fiash of temper] I'm not playin no fool. 
\More coolly] Why, it's as plain as the nose on your face. 
If you aint spotted that, you dont know much about these 
sort of things. [Serene again] Ex-cuse me, you know, Mr 
Tanner ; but you asked me as man to man ; and I told 
you as man to man. 

70 Man and Superman Act II 

TANNER \wildly appealing to the heavens\ Then I—/ am 
the bee, the spider, the marked down victim, the destined 

STRAKER. I dunno about the bee and the spider. But the 
marked down victim, thats what you are and no mistake ; 
and a jolly good job for you, too, I should say. 

TANNER [momentously] Henry Straker : the golden 
moment of your life has arrived. 

STRAKER. What d'y'mean ? 

TANNER. That record to Biskra. 

STRAKER [eagerly] Yes? 

TANNER. Break it. 

STRAKER [rising to the height of his destiny] D'y'mean it."* 

TANNER. I do, 

STRAKER. When ? 

TANNER. Now. Is that machine ready to start? 

STRAKER [quailing] But you cant — 

TANNER [cutting him short by getting into the car] Off we 
go. First to the bank for money ; then to my rooms for 
my kit ; then to your rooms for your kit ; then break the 
record from London to Dover or Folkestone; then across 
the channel and away like mad to Marseilles, Gibraltar, 
Genoa, any port from which we can sail to a Mahometan 
country where men are projected from women. 

STRAKER. Garn ! youre kiddin. 

TANNER [resolutely] Stay behind then. If you wont come 
I'll do it alone. [He starts the motor]. 

STRAKER [runni?ig after him] Here ! Mister ! arf a mo ! 
steady on ! [he scrambles in as the car plunges forward]. 


Evening in the Sierra Nevada, Roiling slopes of brown 
with olive trees instead of apple trees in the cultivated patches^ 
and occasional prickly pears instead of gorse and bracken in the 
wilds. Higher up, tall stone peaks and precipices, all handsome 
and distinguished. No wild nature here: rather a most aristo- 
cratic mountain landscape made by a fastidious artist-creator. 
No vulgar profusion of vegetation: even a touch of aridity 
in the frequent patches of stones: Spanish magnificence and 
Spanish economy everywhere. 

Not very far north of a spot at which the high road over 
one of the passes crosses a tunnel on the railway from Malaga 
to Granada, is one of the mountain amphitheatres of the Sierra. 
Looking at it from the wide end of the horse-shoe, one sees, a 
little to the right, in the face of the cliff, a romantic cave which 
is really an abandoned quarry, and towards the left a little hill, 
commanding a view of the road, which skirts the amphitheatre on 
the left, maintaining its higher level on embankments and an 
occasional stone arch. On the hill, watching the road, is a man 
who is either a Spaniard or a Scotchman. Probably a Spaniard, 
since he wears the dress of a Spanish goatherd and seems at home 
in the Sierra Nevada, but very like a Scotchman for all that. 
In the hollow, on the slope leading to the quarry-cave, are about 
a doxen men who, as they recline at their ease round a heap of 
smouldering white ashes of dead leaf and brushwood, have an 
air of being conscious of themselves as picturesque scoundrels 
honoring the Sierra by using it as an effective pictorial back- 

72 Man and Superman Act III 

ground. As a matter of artistic fact tley are not picturesque ; 
dTid the moujitaim tolerate them as lions tolerate lice. An 
English policeman or Poor Law Guardian would recognize 
them as a selected body of tramps and ablebodied paupers. 

This description of them is not wholly contemptuous. Who- 
ever has intellige?itly observed the tramps or visited the able- 
bodied ward of a workhouse^ will adfnit that our social failures 
are not all drunkards and weaklings. So?ne of them are men 
who do not fit the class they were born into. Precisely the same 
qualities that make the educated gentleman an artist may make 
an uneducated ?nanual laborer an ablebodied pauper. There 
are ?nen who fall helplessly into the workhouse because they are 
good for nothing; but there are also ?nen who are there because 
they are strongminded enough to disregard the social convention 
{obviously not a disinterested one on the part of the ratepayer") 
which bids a man live by heavy and badly paid drudgery when 
he has the alternative of walking into the workhouse^ announ- 
cing himself as a destitute person, and legally compelling the 
Guardians to feed, clothe and house him better than he could 
feed, clothe and house himself without great exertion. When a 
man who is born a poet refuses a stool in a stockbroker's office, 
and starves in a garret, spunging on a poor landlady or on his 
friends and relatives sooner than zvork against his grain; or 
when a lady, because she is a lady, will face any extremity 
of parasitic dependence rather than take a situation as cook 
or parlormaid, we make large allowances for them. To such 
allowances the ablebodied pauper, and his nomadic variant the 
tramp, are equally entitled. 

Further, the imaginative man, if his life is to be tolerable 
to hi?n, must have leisure to tell himself stories, and a position 
which lends itself to imaginative decoration. The ranks of un- 
skilled labor offer no such positions. We misuse our laborers 
horribly; and when a man refuses to be misused, we have 
no right to say that he is refusing honest work. Let us be 
frank in this matter before we go on with our play; so that 
we may enjoy it without hypocrisy. If we were reasoning, far- 
sighted people, four fifths of us zvould go straight to the 

Act III Man and Superman 73 

Guardiajis for reliefs and knock the whole social system to pieces 
with most beneficial reconstructive results. The reason we do 
not do this is because we work like bees or ants^ by instinct or 
habit, not reasonitig about the matter at all. Therefore zul.en a 
man comes along who can and does reason, and who, applfing 
the Kantian test to his conduct, can truly say to us. If every- 
body did as I do, the world zvould be compelled to reform itself 
industrially, and abolish slavery and squalor, which exist only 
because everybody does as you do, let us honor that man and 
seriously consider the advisability of following his example. 
Such a man is the able-bodied, able-minded pauper. Were he 
a gentleman doing lis best to get a pension or a sinecure instead 
of sweeping a crossing, nobody would blame him for deciding 
that so long as the alternative lies between living mainly at the 
expense of the community and allozving the community to live 
mainly at his, it zvould be folly to accept what is to him person- 
ally the greater of the two evils. 

We may therefore contemplate the tramps of the Sierra 
without prejudice, admitting cheerfully that our objects — briefiy, 
to be gentlemen of fortune — are much the same as their'' s, and 
the difference in our position and methods merely accidental. 
One or two of them, perhaps, it would be wiser to kill without 
malice in a friendly and frank manner ; for there are bipeds, 
just as there are quadrupeds, who are too dangerous to be left 
unchained and unmuzzled ; and these cannot fairly expect to 
have other men's lives wasted in the work of watching them. 
But as society has not the courage to kill them, and, when it 
catches them, simply wreaks on them some superstitious ex- 
piatory rites of torture and degradation, and then lets them 
loose with heightened qualifications for mischief, it is just as 
well that they are at large in the Sierra, and in the hands of a 
chief who looks as if he might possibly, on provocation, order 
them to be shot. 

This chief, seated in the centre of the group on a squared 
block of stone from the quarry, is a tall strong man, zvith a 
strikijig cockatoo Jiose, glossy black hair, pointed beard, upturned 
moustache, and a Mephistophelean affectation which is fairly 

74 Man and Superman Act ill 

imposing^ perhaps because the scenery admits of a larger swagger 
than Piccadilly, perhaps because of a certain sentimentality 
in the man which gives him that touch of grace which alone 
can excuse deliberate picturesqueness. His eyes and mouth are 
by no means rascally; he has a fine voice and a ready wit; and 
whether he is really the strongest man in the party or not, he 
looks it. He is certainly the best fed, the best dressed, and the 
best trained. The fact that he speaks English is not unexpected, 
in spite of the Spanish landscape; for with the exception of one 
man who might be guessed as a bullfighter ruined by drink, 
and one unmistakable Frenchman, they are all cockney or 
American; therefore, in a land of cloaks and sombreros, they 
mostly wear seedy overcoats, woollen mufflers, hard hemispherical 
hats, and dirty brown gloves. Only a very few dress after their 
leader, whose broad sombrero with a cock^s feather in the 
band, and voluminous cloak descending to his high boots, are as 
un-English as possible. None of them are armed; and the 
ungloved ones keep their hands in their pockets because it is their 
national belief that it must he dangerously cold in the open air 
with the night coming on. {It is as warm an evening as any 
reasonable man could desire). 

Except the bullfighting inebriate there is only one person in 
the company who looks more than, say, thirty-three. He is a 
small man with reddish whiskers, weak eyes, and the anxious 
look of a small tradesman in difficulties. He wears the only tall 
hat visible : it shines in the sunset with the sticky glow of some 
sixpenny patent hat reviver, often applied and constantly tend- 
ing to produce a worse state of the original surface than the 
ruin it was applied to remedy. He has a collar and cuffs of 
celluloid; and his brown Chesterfield overcoat, with velvet 
collar, is still presentable. He is pre-emi?iently the respectable 
man of the party, and is certainly over forty, possibly over fifty. 
He is the corner man on the leader'' s right, opposite three men 
in scarlet ties on his left. One of these three is the Frenchman. 
Of the remaining two, who are both English, one is argu- 
mentative, solemn, and obstinate; the other rowdy and mis- 

Act III Man and Superman 75 

The chiefs with a magnijicent jiing of the end of his cloak 
across his left shoulder^ rises to address them. The applause 
which greets him shews that he is a favorite orator. 

THE CHIEF. Friends and fellow brigands. I have a pro- 
posal to make to this meeting. We have now spent three 
evenings in discussing the question Have Anarchists or 
Social-Democrats the most personal courage ? We have gone 
into the principles of Anarchism and Social-Democracy at 
great length. The cause of Anarchy has been ably repre- 
sented by our one Anarchist, who doesnt know what 
Anarchism means \laugl)ter'\ — 

THE ANARCHIST \rising\ A point of order, Mendoza — 

MENDOZA [forcil>ly] No, by thunder : your last point of 
order took half an hour. Besides, Anarchists dont believe 
in order. 

THE ANARCHIST [mildy poHte but persistent: he is, in fact, 
the respectable looking elderly man in the celluloid collar and 
cuffs'\ That is a vulgar error. I can prove — 

MENDOZA. Order, order. 

THE OTHERS \jhouting'\ Order, ordcr. Sit down. Chair! 
Shut up. 

The Anarchist is suppressed, 

MENDOZA. On the other hand we have three Social- 
Democrats among us. They are not on speaking terms ; 
and they have put before us three distinct and incompatible 
views of Social-Democracy. 

test. A personal explanation. 2. It's a lie. I never said so. 
Be fair, Mendoza. 3. Jedemande la parole. C'estabsolument 
faux. C'est faux ! faux ! ! faux ! ! ! Assas-s-s-s-sin !!!!!! 

MENDOZA. Order, order. 

THE OTHERS. Order, order, order ! Chair ! 

The Social-Democrats are suppressed. 

MENDOZA. Now, wc tolcratc all opinions here. But 
after all, comrades, the vast majority of us are neither 
Anarchists nor Socialists, but gentlemen and Christians. 

76 Man and Superman Act ill 

THE MAJORITY [shouHng asscjit'] Hear, hear ! So we are. 

THE ROWDY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT [smarting under suppression'] 
You aint no Christian. Youre a Sheeny, you are. 

MENDOZA [with crushing magnanimity'] My friend : / am 
an exception to all rules. It is true that I have the honor 
to be a Jew ; and when the Zionists need a leader to 
reassemble our race on its historic soil of Palestine, 
Mendoza will not be the last to volunteer [sympathetic 
applause — h)ear, h^ear, l^c]. But I am not a slave to any 
superstition. I have swallowed all the formulas, even that 
of Socialism; though, in a sense, once a Socialist, always 
a Socialist. 


MENDOZA. But I am well aware that the ordinary man — 
even the ordinary brigand, who can scarcely be called an 
ordinary man [Hear, hear !] — is not a philosopher. Common 
sense is good enough for him ; and in our business affairs 
common sense is good enough for me. Well, what is our 
business here in the Sierra Nevada, chosen by the Moors 
as the fairest spot in Spain ? Is it to discuss abstruse 
questions of political economy ? No : it is to hold up 
motor cars and secure a more equitable distribution of 

THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. All made by labor, mind 

MENDOZA [urbanely] Undoubtedly. All made by labor, 
and on its way to be squandered by wealthy vagabonds in 
the dens of vice that disfigure the sunny shores of the 
Mediterranean. We intercept that wealth. We restore it 
to circulation among the class that produced it and that 
chiefly needs It — the working class. We do this at the 
risk of our lives and liberties, by the exercise of the virtues 
of courage, endurance, foresight, and abstinence — especially 
abstinence. I myself have eaten nothing but prickly pears 
and broiled rabbit for three days. 

THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT [j-/^-^-^«9r;^/y] No morc aiut wc. 

Act III Man and Superman 77 

MENDOZA \_indignantly'\ Have I taken more than my 
share ? 

THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT [unmoved'\ Why should you? 

THE ANARCHIST. Why should he not? To each accord- 
ing to his needs : from each according to his means. 

THE FRENCHMAN [s/^akiNg his fist lit the Anarchist^ 
Fumiste ! 

MENDOZA \diplomaticallj\ I agree with both of you. 

Mendoza ! 

MENDOZA. What I say is, let us treat one another as 
gentlemen, and strive to excel in personal courage only 
when we take the field. 

THE ROWDY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT \derisivelj\ Shikespear. 

A w /.is tie comes from the goatherd on the hill. He springs 
up and points excitedly forward along the road to the north. 

THE GOATHERD. Automobilc ! Automobilc ! \^He rushes 
down the hill and joins the rest, who all scramble to their feet\ 

MENDOZA \in ringing tones] To arms ! Who has the gun ? 

THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT [handing a rifle to Mendoza] 

MENDOZA. Have the nails been strewn in the road ? 


MENDOZA. Good! [To the French/nan] With me, Duval. 
If the nails fail, puncture their tires with a bullet. [He 
gives the rifle to Duval, who follows him up the hill. Mendoza 
produces an opera glass. The others hurry across to the road 
and disappear to the north\ 

MENDOZA [on the hill, using his glass] Two only, a capi- 
talist and his chauffeur. They look English. 

DUVAL. Angliche ! Aoh yess. Cochons ! [Handling the 
rifle] Faut tirer, n'cst-ce-pas? 

MENDOZA. No : the nails have gone home. Their tire is 
down : they stop. 

DUVAL [shouting to the others'] Fondez sur cux, nom de 
Dieu ! 

MENDOZA [rehuking his excitement] Du calme, Duval : 

78 Man and Superman Act ill 

keep your hair on. They take it quietly. Let us descend 
and receive them. 

Mendoza descends, passing behind the fire and coming for- 
ward^ whilst Tanner and Straker, in their motoring goggles, 
leather coats, and caps, are led in from the road by the 

TANNER. Is this the gentleman you describe as your 
boss ? Does he speak English ? 

THE ROWDY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. Coursc he docs. Y' downt 
suppowz we Hinglishmen luts ahrselves be bossed by a 
bloomin Spenniard, do you ? 

MENDOZA \with dignity'] Allow me to introduce myself : 
Mendoza, President of the League of the Sierra ! [Posing 
loftily] I am a brigand : I live by robbing the rich. 

TANNER [promptly] I am a gentleman : I live by robbing 
the poor. Shake hands. 


General laughter and good humor. Tanner and Mendoza 
shake hands. The Brigands drop into their former places. 

STRAKER. Ere! where do I come in? 

TANNER [introducing] My friend and chauffeur. 

THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT [suspiciously] Well, which 
is he? friend or show-foor? It makes all the difference, 
you know. 

MENDOZA [explaining] We should expect ransom for a 
friend. A professional chauffeur is free of the mountains. 
He even takes a trifling percentage of his principal's 
ransom if he will honor us by accepting it. 

STRAKER. I see. Just to encourage me to come this way 
again. Well, I'll think about it. 

DUVAL [impulsively rushing across to Straker] Mon frere ! 
[He embraces him rapturously and kisses him on both cheeks]. 

STRAKER [disgusted] Ere, git out : dont be silly. Who 
are you, pray? 

DUVAL. Duval : Social-Democrat. 

STRAKER. Oh, youre a Social-Democrat, are you ? 

THE ANARCHIST. Hc mcaus that he has sold out to the 

Act III Man and Superman 79 

parliamentary humbugs and the bourgeoisie. Compromise ! 
that is his faith. 

DUVAL l^furiously^ I understand what he say. He say 
Bourgeois. He say Compromise. Jamais de la vie ! Miser- 
able menteur — 

STRAKER. See here, Captain Mendoza, ow much o this 
sort o thing do you put up with here? Are we avin a 
pleasure trip in the mountains, or arc we at a Socialist 
mectin .? 

THE MAJORITY. Hcar, hear I Shut up. Chuck it. Sit 
down, &c. &c. [7^^ Social- Democrats and the Anarchist 
are hustled into the background, Straker, after superintending 
this proceedi?ig with satisfaction, places himself on Mendoza^ s 
left. Tanner being on his right, 

MENDOZA. Can we offer you anything? Broiled rabbit 
and prickly pears — 

TANNER. Thank you : we have dined. 

MENDOZA [to his followers'] Gentlemen: business is over 
for the day. Go as you please until morning. 

The Brigands disperse into groups lazily. Some go into the 
cave. Others sit down or lie down to sleep in the open. A few 
produce a pack of cards and move off towards the road; for 
it is now starlight; and they know that motor cars have 
lamps which can be turned to account for lighting a card 

STRAKER \calling after them] Dont none of you go fool- 
ing with that car, d'ye hear? 

MENDOZA. No fear. Monsieur le Chauffeur. The first 
one we captured cured us of that. 

STRAKER {interested] What did it do? 

MENDOZA. It carried three brave comrades of ours, who 
did not know how to stop it, into Granada, and capsized 
them opposite the police station. Since then we never 
touch one without sending for the chauffeur. Shall we 
chat at our ease ? 

TANNER. By all means. 

Tanner, Mendoza, and Straker sit down on the turf by 

8o Man and Superman Act III 

the fire. Mendoxa delicately waives his presidential dignity, of 
which the right to sit on the squared stone block is the appanage, 
by sitti?ig on the ground like his guests, and using the stone only 
as a support for his back. 

MENDOZA. It is the custom in Spain always to put off 
business until to-morrow. In fact, you have arrived out of 
office hours. However, if you would prefer to settle the 
question of ransom at once, I am at your service. 

TANNER. To-morrow will do for me. I am rich enough 
to pay anything in reason. 

MENDOZA [respectfully, much struck by this admission'\ You 
are a remarkable man, sir. Our guests usually describe 
themselves as miserably poor. 

TANNER. Pooh! Miscrably poor people dont own 
motor cars. 

MENDOZA. Precisely what wc say to them. 

TANNER. Treat us well : we shall not prove ungrateful. 

STRAKER. No prickly pears and broiled rabbits, you 
know. Dont tell me you cant do us a bit better than that 
if you like. 

MENDOZA. Wine, kids, milk, cheese and bread can be 
procured for ready money. 

STRAKER [graciously^ Now youre talkin. 

TANNER. Are you all Socialists here, may I ask ? 

MENDOZA [repudiating this humiliating misconception'\ Oh 
no, no, no : nothing of the kind, I assure you. We natur- 
ally have modern views as to the injustice of the existing 
distribution of wealth : otherwise we should lose our self- 
respect. But nothing that you could take exception to, 
except two or three faddists. 

TANNER. I had no intention of suggesting anything dis- 
creditable. In fact, I am a bit of a Socialist myself. 

STRAKER [drily'\ Most rich men are, I notice. 

MENDOZA. Quite so. It has reached us, I admit. It is in 
the air of the century. 

STRAKER. Socialism must be lookin up a bit if your 
chaps are taking to it. 

Act III Man and Superman 8i 

MENDOZA. That is true, sir. A movement which is con- 
fined to philosophers and honest men can never exercise 
any real political influence : there are too few of them. 
Until a movement shews itself capable of spreading 
among brigands, it can never hope for a political majority. 

TANNER. But are your brigands any less honest than 
ordinary citizens ? 

MENDOZA. Sir : I will be frank with you. Brigandage is 
abnormal. Abnormal professions attract two classes: those 
who are not good enough for ordinary bourgeois life and 
those who are too good for it. We are dregs and scum, 
sir: the dregs very filthy, the scum very superior. 

STRAKER. Take care ! some o the dregs'll hear you. 

MENDOZA. It does not matter : each brigand thinks 
himself scum, and likes to hear the others called dregs. 

TANNER. Come ! you are a wit. [Mendoza inclines his 
head^ fiattered\ May one ask you a blunt question? 

MENDOZA. As blunt as you please. 

TANNER. How docs it pay a man of your talent to shep- 
herd such a flock as this on broiled rabbit and prickly 
pears? I have seen men less gifted, and I'll swear less 
honest, supping at the Savoy on foie gras and champagne. 

MENDOZA. Pooh ! they have all had their turn at the 
broiled rabbit, just as I shall have my turn at the Savoy. 
Indeed, I have had a turn there already — as waiter. 

TANNER. A waiter ! You astonish me ! 

MENDOZA [reflectively'] Yes : I, Mendoza of the Sierra, 
was a waiter. Hence, perhaps, my cosmopolitanism. 
[With sudden intensity] Shall I tell you the story of my 

STRAKER [apprehensively] If it aint too long, old chap— 

TANNER [interrupting him] Tsh-sh : you are a Philistine, 
Henry: you have no romance in you. [To Mendoza] You 
interest me extremely. President. Never mind Henry: he 
can go to sleep. 

MENDOZA. The woman I loved — 

STRAKER. Oh, this is a love story, is it? Right you are. 


82 Man and Superman Act ill 

Go on : I was only afraid you were going to talk about 

MENDOZA. Myself! I have thrown myself away for her 
sake : that is why I am here. No matter : I count the world 
well lost for her. She had, I pledge you my word, the most 
magnificent head of hair I ever saw. She had humor ; she 
had intellect ; she could cook to perfection ; and her highly 
strung temperament made her uncertain, incalculable, vari- 
able, capricious, cruel, in a word, enchanting. 

STRAKER. A six shilHu novcl sort o woman, all but the 
cookin. Er name was Lady Gladys Plantagenet, wasnt it ? 

MENDOZA. No, sir I shc was not an earl's daughter. 
Photography, reproduced by the half-tone process, has made 
me familiar with the appearance of the daughters of the 
English peerage ; and I can honestly say that I would have 
sold the lot, faces, dowries, clothes, titles, and all, for a 
smile from this woman. Yet she was a woman of the people, 
a worker : otherwise — let me reciprocate your bluntness — 
I should have scorned her. 

TANNER. Very properly. And did she respond to your 
love ? 

MENDOZA. Should I bc here if she did? She objected to 
marry a Jew. 

TANNER. On religious grounds ? 

MENDOZA. No : she was a freethinker. She said that every 
Jew considers in his heart that English people are dirty in 
their habits. 

TANNER [surprise/^] Dirty ! 

MENDOZA. It shewed her extraordinary knowledge of the 
world ; for it is undoubtedly true. Our elaborate sanitary 
code makes us unduly contemptuous of the Gentile. 

TANNER. Did you ever hear that, Henry? 

STRAKER. Ive heard my sister say so. She was cook in a 
Jewish family once. 

MENDOZA. I could not deny it ; neither could I eradicate 
the impression it made on her mind. I could have got 
round any other objection ; but no woman can stand a 

Act III Man and Superman 83 

suspicion of indelicacy as to her person. My entreaties 
were in vain : she always retorted that she wasnt good 
enough for me, and recommended me to marry an accursed 
barmaid named Rebecca Lazarus, whom I loathed. I talked 
of suicide : she offered me a packet of beetle poison to do 
it with. I hinted at murder : she went into hysterics ; and 
as I am a living man I went to America so that she might 
sleep without dreaming that I was stealing upstairs to cut 
her throat. In America I went out west and fell in with a 
man who was wanted by the police for holding up trains. 
It was he who had the idea of holding up motor cars in the 
South of Europe : a welcome idea to a desperate and dis- 
appointed man. He gave me some valuable introductions 
to capitalists of the right sort. I formed a syndicate ; and 
the present enterprise is the result. I became leader, as the 
Jew always becomes leader, by his brains and imagination. 
But with all my pride of race I would give everything I 
possess to be an Englishman. I am like a boy : I cut her 
name on the trees and her initials on the sod. When I am 
alone I lie down and tear my wretched hair and cry Louisa — 

STRAKER \jtartled'\ Louisa ! 

MENDOZA. It is her name — Louisa — Louisa Straker — 

TANNER. Straker ! 

STRAKER [scrambling up on his knees most indignantly'] Look 
here : Louisa Straker is my sister, see ? Wot do you mean 
by gassin about her like this ? Wotshe got to do with you ? 

MENDOZA. A dramatic coincidence ! You are Enry, her 
favorite brother! 

STRAKER. Oo arc you callin Enry? What call have you 
to take a liberty with my name or with hers ? For two pins 
I'd punch your fat ed, so I would. 

MENDOZA [zvith grandiose calm] If I let you do it, will you 
promise to brag of it afterwards to her? She will be re- 
minded of her Mendoza : that is all I desire. 

TANNER. This is gcnuinc devotion, Henry. You should 
respect it. 

STRAKER [fiercely] Funk, more likely. 

84 Man and Superman Act ill 

MENDOZA [springing to Ins feet] Funk ! Young man : I 
come of a famous family of fighters ; and as your sister well 
knows, you would have as much chance against me as a 
perambulator against your motor car. 

STRAKER [secretly daunted, but rising from his knees with 
an air of reckless pugnacity] I aint afraid of you. With your 
Louisa! Louisa! Miss Straker is good enough for you, I 
should think. 

MENDOZA. I wish you could persuade her to think so. 

STRAKER [exasperated] Here — 

TANNER [rising quickly and ijiterposing] Oh come, Henry : 
even if you could fight the President you cant fight the 
whole League of the Sierra. Sit down again and be friendly. 
A cat may look at a king ; and even a President of bri- 
gands may look at your sister. All this family pride is really 
very old fashioned. 

STRAKER [subdued, but grumbling] Let him look at her. 
But wot does he mean by makin out that she ever looked 
at im ? [Reluctantly resuming his couch on the turf] Ear him 
talk, one ud think she was keepin company with him. 
[He turns his back on them and composes himself to sleep]. 

MENDOZA [to Tanner, becoming more confidential as he finds 
himself virtually alone with a sympathetic listener in the still 
starlight of the mountains; for all the rest are asleep by this 
time] It was just so with her, sir. Her intellect reached 
forward into the twentieth century : her social prejudices 
and family affections reached back into the dark ages. Ah, 
sir, how the words of Shakespear seem to fit every crisis in 
our emotions ! 

I loved Louisa : 40,000 brothers 

Could not with all their quantity of love 

Make up my sum. 

And so on. I forget the rest. Call it madness if you will — 
infatuation. I am an able man, a strong man : in ten years 
I should have owned a first-class hotel. I met her; and — 
you see ! — I am a brigand, an outcast. Even Shakespear 
cannot do justice to what I feel for Louisa. Let me read 

Act III Man and Superman 85 

you some lines that I have written about her myself. How- 
ever slight their literary merit may be, they express what 
I feel better than any casual words can. [He produces a 
packet of hotel bills scrawled with manuscript, and kneels at the 
fre to decipher them, poking it with a stick to make it glow\ 

TANNER [slapping him rudely on the shoulder^ Put them in 
the fire, President. 

MENDOZA \startled'\ Eh ? 

TANNER. You are sacrificing your career to a monomania. 

MENDOZA. I know it. 

TANNER. No you dont. No man would commit such a 
crime against himself if he really knew what he was doing. 
How can you look round at these august hills, look up at 
this divine sky, taste this finely tempered air, and then 
talk like a literary hack on a second floor in Bloomsbury? 

MENDOZA [shaking his head\ The Sierra is no better than 
Bloomsbury when once the novelty has worn ofi\ Besides, 
these mountains make you dream of women — of women 
with magnificent hair. 

TANNER. Of Louisa, in short. They will not make me 
dream of women, my friend : I am heartwhole. 

MENDOZA. Do not boast until morning, sir. This is a 
strange country for dreams. 

TANNER. Well, we shall see. Goodnight. [He lies down 
and composes himself to sleep"]. 

Mendoza, with a sigh, follows his example; and for a few 
moments there is peace in the Sierra. Then Mendoza sits up 
suddenly and says pleadingly to Tanner — 

MENDOZA. Just allow mc to read a few lines before you 
go to sleep. I should really like your opinion of them. 

TANNER [drowsilyl Go on. I am listening. 

MENDOZA. I saw thee first in Whitsun week 
Louisa, Louisa — 

TANNER [rousing himself] My dear President, Louisa is a 
very pretty name; but it really doesnt rhyme well to 
Whitsun week. 

86 Man and Superman Act ill 

MENDOZA. Of course not. Louisa is not the rhyme, but 
the refrain. 

TANNER [subsiding] Ah, the refrain. I beg your pardon. 
Go on. 

MENDOZA. Perhaps you do not care for that one : I think 
you will like this better. [He recites, in rich soft tones, and 
in slow time] 

Louisa, I love thee. 

I love thee, Louisa. 

Louisa, Louisa, Louisa, I love thee. 

One name and one phrase make my music, Louisa. 

Louisa, Louisa, Louisa, I love thee. 

Mendoza thy lover, 

Thy lover, Mendoza, 

Mendoza adoringly lives for Louisa. 

There's nothing but that in the world for Mendoza. 

Louisa, Louisa, Mendoza adores thee. 

[Affected] There is no merit in producing beautiful 
lines upon such a name. Louisa is an exquisite name, is it 

TANNER [all but asleep, responds with a faint groan], 

MENDOZA. O wcrt thou, Louisa, 
The wife of Mendoza, 
Mendoza's Louisa, Louisa Mendoza, 
How blest were the life of Louisa's Mendoza ! 
How painless his longing of love for Louisa ! 

That is real poetry — from the heart — from the heart 
of hearts. Dont you think it will move her? 

iV(? answer, 

[Resignedly] Asleep, as usual. Doggrel to all the world : 
heavenly music to me ! Idiot that I am to wear my heart 
on my sleeve ! [He composes himself to sleep, murmuring] 
Louisa, I love thee ; I love thee, Louisa ; Louisa, Louisa, 
Louisa, I — 

Straker snores; rolls over on his side; and relapses into 
sleep. Stillness settles on the Sierra; and the darkness deepens. 
The fire has again buried itself in white ash and ceased to 

Act III Man and Superman 87 

glow, The peaks skezv unfathomably dark against the starry 
firmament ; but now the stars dim and vanish ; and the sky seems 
to steal away out of tie universe. Instead of the Sierra there 
is nothing; omnipresent nothing. No sky, no peaks ^ no lights no 
sounds no time nor space^ utter void. Then somewhere the 
beginning of a pallor^ and with it a faint throbbing buzz as of 
a ghostly violoncello palpitating on the same note endlessly. A 
couple of ghostly violins presently take advantage of this bass 

and therewith the pallor reveals a man in the void, an incor- 
poreal but visible man, seated, absurdly enough, on nothing. For 
a moment he raises his head as the music passes him by. Then, 
with a heavy sigh, he droops in utter dejection; and the violins, 
discouraged, retrace their melody in despair and at last give it 
up, extinguished by wailings from uncanny wind instruments, 
thus: — 

^ ^^. te f ^ J!3 



It is all very odd. One recognizes the Mozartian strain; 
and on this hint, and by the aid ^certain sparkles of violet light 
in the pallor, the man^s costume explains itself as that of a 
Spanish nobleman of the XV -XVI. century, Don Juan, of 
course; but where? why? how? Besides, in the brief lifting 
of his face, now hidden by his hat brim, there was a curious 
suggestion of Tanner. A more critical,fastidious, handsome face, 
paler and colder, without Tanner's impetuous credulity and en- 
thusiasm, and without a touch of his modern plutocratic vulgarity, 
but still a resemblance, even an identity. The name too: Don 

88 Man and Superman Act ill 

Jua7i Tenorio, John Tanner. Where on earth — or elsewhere 
— have we got to from the XX century and the Sierra? 

Another pallor in the void, this time not violet, but a dis- 
agreeable smoky yellow. With it, the whisper of a ghostly 
clarionet turning this tune into infinite sadness : 

The yellowish pallor moves: there is an old crone wandering in 
the void, bent and toothless ; draped, as well as one can guess, 
in the coarse brown frock of some religious order. She wanders 
and wanders in her slow hopeless zvay, much as a wasp flies in 
its rapid busy way, until she blunders against the thing she seeks : 
companionship. With a sob of relief the poor old creature clutches 
at the presence of the man and addresses him in her dry unlovely 
voice, which can still express pride and resolution as well as 

THE OLD WOMAN. Excusc Hic ; but I am so lonely; and 
this place is so awful. 

DON JUAN. A new comer ? 

THE OLD WOMAN. Ycs : I supposc I died this morning. I 
confessed ; I had extreme unction ; I was in bed with my 
family about me and my eyes fixed on the cross. Then it 
grew dark ; and when the light came back it was this light 
by which I walk seeing nothing. I have wandered for hours 
in horrible loneliness. 

DON JUAN \sighing\ Ah ! you have not yet lost the sense 
of time. One soon does, in eternity. 

THE OLD WOMAN. Where are we ? 

DON JUAN. In hell. 

THE OLD WOMAN \_proudly'\ Hell ! I in hell ! How dare 

DON JUAN [unimpressed^ Why not, Senora? 

THE OLD WOMAN. You do not know to whom you are 
speaking. I am a lady, and a faithful daughter of the 

Act III Man and Superman 89 

DON JUAN. I do not doubt it. 

THE OLD WOMAN. But how thcn Can I be in hell ? Purga- 
tory, perhaps: 1 have not been perfect: who has? But 
hell ! oh, you are lying. 

DON JUAN. Hell, Seilora, I assure you; hell at its best: 
that is, its most solitary — though perhaps you would prefer 

THE OLD WOMAN. But I havc sinccrcly repented ; I have 
confessed — 

DON JUAN. How much ? 

THE OLD WOMAN. Moic sins than I really committed. I 
loved confession. 

DON JUAN. Ah, that is perhaps as bad as confessing too 
little. At all events, Senora, whether by oversight or inten- 
tion, you are certainly damned, like myself; and there is 
nothing for it now but to make the best of it. 

THE OLD WOMAN \indignantlj\ Oh ! and I might have 
been so much wickeder ! All my good deeds wasted ! It 
is unjust. 

DON JUAN. No : you were fully and clearly warned. For 
your bad deeds, vicarious atonement, mercy without justice. 
For your good deeds, justice without mercy. We have many 
good people here. 

THE OLD WOMAN. Were you a good man ? 

DON JUAN, I was a murderer. 

THE OLD WOMAN. A murdcrcr ! Oh, how dare they send 
me to herd with murderers ! I was not as bad as that : I 
was a good woman. There is some mistake : where can I 
have it set right ? 

DON JUAN. I do not know whether mistakes can be cor- 
rected here. Probably they will not admit a mistake even 
if they have made one. 

THE OLD WOMAN. But whom Can I ask? 

DON JUAN. I should ask the Devil, Senora : he under- 
stands the ways of this place, which is more than I ever 

THE OLD WOMAN. Thc Dcvil ! / spcak to the Devil ! 

go Man and Superman Act III 

DON JUAN. In hell, Sefiora, the Devil is the leader of the 
best society. 

THE OLD WOMAN. I tcll you, wfctch, I know I am not 
in hell, 

DON JUAN. How do you know? 

THE OLD WOMAN. Becausc I feel no pain. 

DON JUAN. Oh, then there is no mistake : you are in- 
tentionally damned. 

THE OLD WOMAN. Why do you say that ? 

DON JUAN. Because hell, Sefiora, is a place for the wicked. 
The wicked are quite comfortable in it : it was made for 
them. You tell me you feel no pain. I conclude you are 
one of those for whom Hell exists. 

THE OLD WOMAN. Do you feel no pain? 

DON JUAN. I am not one of the wicked, Sefiora ; there- 
fore it bores me, bores me beyond description, beyond belief. 

THE OLD WOMAN. Not ouc of the wickcd ! You said you 
were a murderer. 

DON JUAN. Only a duel. I ran my sword through an old 
man who was trying to run his through me. 

THE OLD WOMAN. If you werc a gentleman, that was not 
a murder. 

DON JUAN. The old man called it murder, because he 
was, he said, defending his daughter's honor. By this he 
meant that because I foolishly fell in love with her and 
told her so, she screamed ; and he tried to assassinate me 
after calling me insulting names. 

THE OLD WOMAN. You wcrc Ukc all men. Libertines and 
murderers all, all, all ! 

DON JUAN. And yet we meet here, dear lady. 

THE OLD WOMAN. Listcu to me. My father was slain by 
just such a wretch as you, in just such a duel, for just such 
a cause. I screamed : it was my duty. My father drew on 
my assailant : his honor demanded it. He fell : that was 
the reward of honor. I am here : in hell, you tell me : 
that is the reward of duty. Is there justice in heaven? 

DON JUAN. No ; but there is justice in hell : heaven is 

Act III Man and Superman 91 

far above such idle human personalities. You will be wel- 
come in hell, Scnora. Hell is the home of honor, duty, 
justice, and the rest of the seven deadly virtues. All the 
wickedness on earth is done in their name : where else 
but in hell should they have their reward? Have I not 
told you that the truly damned are those who arc happy 
in hell ? 

THE OLD WOMAN. And are you happy here? 

DON JUAN [springing to his feet] No ; and that is the 
enigma on which I ponder in darkness. Why am I here? 
I, who repudiated all duty, trampled honor underfoot, and 
laughed at justice ! 

THE OLD WOMAN. Oh, what do I care why you are here ? 
Why am / here? I, who sacrificed all my inclinations to 
womanly virtue and propriety ! 

DON JUAN. Patience, lady : you will be perfectly happy 
and at home here. As saith the poet, " Hell is a city much 
like Seville." 

THE OLD WOMAN. Happy ! here ! where I am nothing ! 
where I am nobody ! 

DON JUAN. Not at all : you arc a lady ; and wherever 
ladies are is hell. Do not be surprised or terrified : you 
will find everything here that a lady can desire, including 
devils who will serve you from sheer love of servitude, and 
magnify your importance for the sake of dignifying their 
service — the best of servants. 

THE OLD WOMAN. My scrvants will be devils ! 

DON JUAN. Have you ever had servants who were not 
devils ? 

THE OLD WOMAN. Ncvcr ! they were devils, perfect 
devils, all of them. But that is only a manner of speak- 
ing. I thought you meant that my servants here would be 
real devils. 

DON JUAN. No more real devils than you will be a real 
lady. Nothing is real here. That is the horror of damnation. 

THE OLD WOMAN. Oh, this is all madness. This is worse 
than fire and the worm. 

92 Man and Superman Act ill 

DON JUAN. For you, perhaps, there are consolations. For 
instance : how old were you when you changed from time 
to eternity? 

THE OLD WOMAN. Do not Esk me how old I was — as if I 
were a thing of the past. lam ']']. 

DON JUAN. A ripe age, Senora. But in hell old age is 
not tolerated. It is too real. Here we worship Love and 
Beauty. Our souls being entirely damned, we cultivate our 
hearts. As a lady of 'j']^ you would not have a single ac- 
quaintance in hell. 

THE OLD WOMAN. How can I help my age, man ? 

DON JUAN. You forget that you have left your age behind 
you in the realm of time. You are no more ']'] than you 
are 7 or 17 or 27. 

THE OLD WOMAN. Nonsense ! 

DON JUAN. Consider, Senora : was not this true even 
when you lived on earth? When you were 70, were you 
really older underneath your wrinkles and your grey hairs 
than when you were 30 ? 

THE OLD WOMAN. No, youngcr : at 30 I was a fool. But 
of what use is it to feel younger and look older ? 

DON JUAN. You see, Senora, the look was only an illu- 
sion. Your wrinkles lied, just as the plump smooth skin of 
many a stupid girl of 17, with heavy spirits and decrepit 
ideas, lies about her age? Well, here we have no bodies : 
we see each other as bodies only because we learnt to think 
about one another under that aspect when we were alive ; 
and we still think in that way, knowing no other. But we 
can appear to one another at what age we choose. You have 
but to will any of your old looks back, and back they will 

THE OLD WOMAN. It cannot be true. 


THE OLD WOMAN. Seventeen ! 

DON JUAN. Stop. Before you decide, I had better tell 
you that these things are a matter of fashion. Occasionally 
we have a rage for 17; but it does not last long. Just at 

Act III Man and Superman 93 

present the fashionable age is 40 — or say 37; but there 
are signs of a change. If you were at all good-looking at 
27, I should suggest your trying that, and setting a new 

THE OLD WOMAN. I do not bclicve a word you arc say- 
ing. However, 27 be it. [^fVhisk! the old woman becomes a 
young one, and so handsome that in the radiance into which her 
dull yellow halo has suddenly lightened one might almost mistake 
her for Ann Whitefald], 

DON JUAN. Dona Ana de Ulloa ! 

ANA. What ? You know me ! 

DON JUAN. And you forget me ! 

ANA. I cannot see your face. [He raises his hat]. Don 
Juan Tenorio! Monster! You who slew my father! even 
here you pursue me. 

DON JUAN. I protest I do not pursue you. Allow mc to 
withdraw [going]. 

ANA [seizing his arm] You shall not leave mc alone in 
this dreadful place. 

DON JUAN. Provided my staying be not interpreted as 

ANA [releasing him] You may well wonder how I can 
endure your presence. My dear, dear father ! 

DON JUAN. Would you like to see him ? 

ANA. My father here ! ! I 

DON JUAN. No : he is in heaven. 

ANA. I knew it. My noble father I He is looking down 
on us now. What must he feel to see his daughter in this 
place, and in conversation with his murderer I 

DON JUAN. By the way, if we should meet him — 

ANA. How can we meet him ? He is in heaven. 

DON JUAN. He condescends to look in upon us here from 
time to time. Heaven bores him. So let me warn you that 
if you meet him he will be mortally offended if you speak 
of me as his murderer! He maintains that he was a much 
better swordsman than I, and that if his foot had not slipped 
he would have killed me. No doubt he is right : I was not 

94 Man and Superman Act ill 

a good fencer. I never dispute the point j so we are excel- 
lent friends. 

ANA. It is no dishonor to a soldier to be proud of his 
skill in arms. 

DON JUAN. You would rather not meet him, probably. 

ANA. How dare you say that ? 

DON JUAN. Oh, that is the usual feeling here. You may 
remember that on earth — though of course we never con- 
fessed it — the death of anyone we knew, even those we 
liked best, was always mingled with a certain satisfaction 
at being finally done with them. 

ANA, Monster ! Never, never. 

DON JUAN [placidly^ I see you recognize the feeling. 
Yes : a funeral was always a festivity in black, especially 
the funeral of a relative. At all events, family ties are 
rarely kept up here. Your father is quite accustomed to 
this : he will not expect any devotion from you. 

ANA. Wretch : I wore mourning for him all my life. 

DON JUAN. Yes : it became you. But a life of mourning 
is one thing : an eternity of it quite another. Besides, here 
you are as dead as he. Can anything be more ridiculous 
than one dead person mourning for another? Do not look 
shocked, my dear Ana ; and do not be alarmed : there is 
plenty of humbug in hell (indeed there is hardly anything 
else) ; but the humbug of death and age and change is 
dropped because here we are all dead and all eternal. You 
will pick up our ways soon. 

ANA. And will all the men call me their dear Ana? 

DON JUAN. No. That was a slip of the tongue. I beg 
your pardon. 

ANA {^almost tenderly'] Juan : did you really love me when 
you behaved so disgracefully to me ? 

DON JUAN [impatiently] Oh, I beg you not to begin talk- 
ing about love. Here they talk of nothing else but love — 
its beauty, its holiness, its spirituality, its devil knows what ! 
— excuse me ; but it does so bore me. They dont know 
what theyre talking about : I do. They think they have 

Act III Man and Superman 95 

achieved the perfection of love because they have no bodies. 
Sheer imaginative debauchery! Faugh! 

ANA. Has even death failed to refine your soul, Juan ? 
Has the terrible judgment of which my father's statue was 
the minister taught you no reverence ? 

DON JUAN. How is that very flattering statue, by the way ? 
Does it still come to supper with naughty people and cast 
them into this bottomless pit? 

ANA. It has been a great expense to me. The boys in 
the monastery school would not let it alone : the mischiev- 
ous ones broke it ; and the studious ones wrote their names 
on it. Three new noses in two years, and fingers without 
end. I had to leave it to its fate at last ; and now I fear it 
is shockingly mutilated. My poor father ! 

DON JUAN. Hush! Listen! [Tzao great chords rolling on 
syncopated waves of sound break forth: D minor and its domi- 
nant : a sound of dreadful joy to all musicians\ Ha ! Mozart's 
statue music. It is your father. You had better disappear 
until I prepare him. \^8he vanishes']. 

From the void comes a living statue of white marble^ designed 
to represent a majestic old man. But he waives his majesty with 
infinite grace; walks with a feather-like step ; and makes every 
wrinkle in his war worn visage brim over with holiday joyousness. 
To his sculptor he owes a perfectly trained figure^ which he 
carries erect and trim; and the ends of his moustache curl up, 
elastic as watchsprings^ giving him an air which, but for its 
Spanish dignity, would be called jaunty. He is on the pleasantest 
terms with Don Juan. His voice, save for a much more distin- 
guished intonation, is so like the voice of Roebuck Ramsden that it 
calls attention to the fact that they are not unlike one another in 
spite of their very dijferent fashions of shaving]. 

DON JUAN. Ah, here you are, my friend. Why dont you 
learn to sing the splendid music Mozart has written for 

THE STATUE. Unluckily he has written it for a bass voice. 
Mine is a counter tenor. Well : have you repented yet? 

DON JUAN. I have too much consideration for you to 

96 Man and Superman Act III 

repent, Don Gonzalo. If I did, you would have no excuse 
for coming from Heaven to argue with me. 

THE STATUE. Truc. Remain obdurate, my boy. I wish 
I had killed you, as I should have done but for an accident. 
Then I should have come here ; and you would have had 
a statue and a reputation for piety to live up to. Any news ? 

DON JUAN. Yes : your daughter is dead. 

THE STATUE [puzzkdl My daughter ? [Recollecting] Oh ! 
the one you were taken with. Let me see : what was her 
name ? 


THE STATUE. To be surc : Ana. A goodlooking girl, if I 
recollect aright. Have you warned Whatshisname — her 
husband ? 

DON JUAN. My friend Ottavio ? No : I have not seen 
him since Ana arrived. 

Ana comes indignantly to light. 

ANA. What does this mean? Ottavio here and your 
friend ! And you, father, have forgotten my name. You are 
indeed turned to stone. 

THE STATUE. My dear : I am so much more admired in 
marble than I ever was in my own person that I have 
retained the shape the sculptor gave me. He was one of 
the first men of his day : you must acknowledge that. 

ANA. Father ! Vanity ! personal vanity ! from you ! 

THE STATUE. Ah, you outlivcd that wcakucss, my daughter : 
you must be nearly 80 by this time. I was cut off (by an 
accident) in my 64th year, and am considerably your junior 
in consequence. Besides, my child, in this place, what our 
libertine friend here would call the farce of parental wisdom 
is dropped. Regard me, I beg, as a fellow creature, not as 
a father. 

ANA. You speak as this villain speaks. 

THE STATUE. Juau is a sound thinker. Ana. A bad fencer, 
but a sound thinker. 

ANA [horror creeping upon her] I begin to understand. 
These are devils, mocking me. I had better pray. 

Act III Man and Superman 97 

THE STATUE [coTisoling />er] No, no, no, my child : do not 
pray. If you do, you will throw away the main advantage 
of this place. Written over the gate here are the words 
"Leave every hope behind, ye who enter." Only think 
what a relief that is ! For what is hope ? A form of moral 
responsibility. Here there is no hope, and consequently no 
duty, no work, nothing to be gained by praying, nothing to 
be lost by doing what you like. Hell, in short, is a place 
where you have nothing to do but amuse yourself. [Don 
Juan sighs deeplj\. You sigh, friend Juan ; but if you dwelt 
in heaven, as I do, you would realize your advantages. 

DON JUAN. You are in good spirits to-day. Commander. 
You are positively brilliant. What is the matter ? 

THE STATUE. I havc come to a momentous decision, my 
boy. But first, where is our friend the Devil ? I must con- 
sult him in the matter. And Ana would like to make his 
acquaintance, no doubt. 

ANA. You are preparing some torment for me. 

DON JUAN. All that is superstition, Ana. Reassure your- 
self. Remember : the devil is not so black as he is painted. 

THE STATUE. Let US give him a call. 

At the wave of the statue's hand the great chords roll out 
again; but this time Mozart's music gets grotesquely adulterated 
with Gounod's. A scarlet halo begins to glow; and into it the 
Devil rises, very Mephistophelean, and not at all unlike Men- 
doza, though not so interesting. He looks older ; is getting 
prematurely bald; and, in spite of an effusion of goodnature 
and friendliness, is peevish and sensitive when his advances are 
not reciprocated. He does not inspire much confidence in his 
powers of hard work or endurance, and is, on the whole, a dis- 
agreeably self-indulgent looking person; but he is clever and 
plausible, though perceptibly less well bred than the two other 
men, and enormously less vital than the woman. 

THE DEVIL \heartily'\ Have I the pleasure of again re- 
ceiving a visit from the illustrious Commander of Cala- 
trava? [Coldly'] Don Juan, your servant. [Politely] And a 
strange lady? My respects, Sefiora. 


98 Man and Superman Act III 

ANA. Are you — 

THE DEVIL [hzamg] Lucifer, at your service. 

ANA. I shall go mad. 

THE DEVIL [gallantly'] Ah, Sefiora, do not be anxious. 
You come to us from earth, full of the prejudices and 
terrors of that priest-ridden place. You have heard me ill 
spoken of; and yet, believe me, I have hosts of friends 

ANA. Yes : you reign in their hearts. 

THE DEVIL [shaking his head] You flatter me, Sefiora; 
but you are mistaken. It is true that the world cannot get 
on without me ; but it never gives me credit for that : in 
its heart it mistrusts and hates me. Its sympathies are all 
with misery, with poverty, with starvation of the body and 
of the heart. I call on it to sympathize with joy, with 
love, with happiness, with beauty — 

DON JUAN [nauseated] Excuse me : I am going. You 
know I cannot stand this. 

THE DEVIL [angrily] Yes : I know that you are no friend 
of mine. 

THE STATUE. What harm is he doing you, Juan? It 
seems to me that he was talking excellent sense when you 
interrupted him. 

THE DEVIL [warmly shaking the statue'' s hand] Thank 
you, my friend : thank you. You have always understood 
me : he has always disparaged and avoided me. 

DON JUAN. I have treated you with perfect courtesy. 

THE DEVIL. Courtesy ! What is courtesy ? I care nothing 
for mere courtesy. Give me warmth of heart, true sincerity, 
the bond of sympathy with love and joy — 

DON JUAN. You are making me ill. 

THE DEVIL. There! [Appealing to the statue] You hear, 
sir ! Oh, by what irony of fate was this cold selfish egotist 
sent to my kingdom, and you taken to the icy mansions of 
the sky! 

THE STATUE. I cant complain. I was a hypocrite : and 
it served me right to be sent to heaven. 

Act III Man and Superman 99 

THE DEVIL. Why, sir, do you not join us, and leave a 
sphere for which your temperament is too sympathetic, 
your heart too warm, your capacity for enjoyment too 

THE STATUE. I havc this day resolved to do so. In future, 
excellent Son of the Morning, I am yours. I have left 
Heaven for ever. 

THE DEVIL [again grasping his hand'\ Ah, what an honor 
for me ! What a triumph for our cause ! Thank you, thank 
you. And now, my friend — I may call you so at last — 
could you not persuade him to take the place you havc 
left vacant above? 

THE STATUE [shaking his head'\ I cannot conscientiously 
recommend anybody with whom I am on friendly terms 
to deliberately make himself dull and uncomfortable. 

THE DEVIL. Of course not; but are you sure he would 
be uncomfortable ? Of course you know best : you brought 
him here originally; and we had the greatest hopes of 
him. His sentiments were in the best taste of our best 
people. You remember how he sang ? [He begins to sing in 
a nasal operatic baritone^ tremulous from an eternity of misuse 
in the French manner^ 

Vivan le femmine ! 
Viva il buon vino ! 

THE STATUE [taking up the tune an octave higher in his 
counter tenor] 

Sostegno e gloria 

THE DEVIL. Precisely. Well, he never sings for us now. 

DON JUAN. Do you complain of that? Hell is full of 
musical amateurs : music is the brandy of the damned. 
May not one lost soul be permitted to abstain? 

THE DEVIL. You dare blaspheme against the subliraest 
of the arts ! 

loo Man and Superman Act ill 

DON JUAN [with cold disgust'] You talk like a hysterical 
woman fawning on a fiddler. 

THE DEVIL. I am not angry. I merely pity you. You 
have no soul ; and you are unconscious of all that you 
lose. Now you, Senor Commander, are a born musician. 
How well you sing! Mozart would be delighted if he 
were still here; but he moped and went to heaven. 
Curious how these clever men, whom you would have 
supposed born to be popular here, have turned out social 
failures, like Don Juan ! 

DON JUAN. I am really very sorry to be a social failure. 

THE DEVIL. Not that wc dont admire your intellect, 
you know. We do. But I look at the matter from your own 
point of view. You dont get on with us. The place doesnt 
suit you. The truth is, you have — I wont say no heart ; 
for we know that beneath all your affected cynicism you 
have a warm one — 

DON JUAN [shrinking] Dont, please dont. 

THE DEVIL [nettled] Well, youve no capacity for enjoy- 
ment. Will that satisfy you ? 

DON JUAN. It is a somewhat less insufferable form of 
cant than the other. But if youll allow me, I'll take re- 
fuge, as usual, in solitude. 

THE DEVIL. Why not take refuge in Heaven? Thats 
the proper place for you. [To And] Come, Senora ! could 
you not persuade him for his own good to try change of air ? 

ANA. But can he go to Heaven if he wants to ? 

THE DEVIL. Whats to prevent him? 

ANA. Can anybody — can / go to Heaven if I want to? 

THE DEVIL [rather contemptuously] Certainly, if your 
taste lies that way. 

ANA. But why doesnt everybody go to Heaven, then? 

THE STATUE [chuckUng] I Can tell you that, my dear. 
It's because heaven is the most angelically dull place in 
all creation : thats why. 

THE DEVIL. His exccllcncy the Commander puts it 
with military bluntness ; but the strain of living in Heaven 

Act III Man and Superman loi 

is intolerable. There is a notion that 1 was turned out of 
it; but as a matter of fact nothing could have induced 
me to stay there, l simply left it and organized this place. 

THE STATUE. I dout wondci at it. Nobody could stand 
an eternity of heaven. 

THE DEVIL. Oh, it suits somc people. Let us be just, 
Commander : it is a question of temperament. I dont 
admire the heavenly temperament : I dont understand it : 
I dont know that I particularly w^ant to understand it ; 
but it takes all sorts to make a universe. There is no 
accounting for tastes : there are people who like it. I 
think Don Juan would like it. 

DON JUAN. But — pardon my frankness — could you really 
go back there if you desired to; or are the grapes sour? 

THE DEVIL. Back there ! I often go back there. Have 
you never read the book of Job? Have you any canonical 
authority for assuming that there is any barrier between 
our circle and the other one? 

ANA. But surely there is a great gulf fixed. 

THE DEVIL. Dear lady: a parable must not be taken 
literally. The gulf is the difference between the angelic 
and the diabolic temperament. What more impassable gulf 
could you have? Think of what you have seen on earth. 
There is no physical gulf between the philosopher's class 
room and the bull ring ; but the bull fighters do not come 
to the class room for all that. Have you ever been in the 
country where I have the largest following — England? 
There they have great racecourses, and also concert rooms 
where they play the classical compositions of his Excel- 
lency's friend Mozart. Those who go to the racecourses 
can stay away from them and go to the classical concerts 
instead if they like : there is no law against it ; for English- 
men never will be slaves : they are free to do whatever 
the Government and public opinion allow them to do. 
And the classical concert is admitted to be a higher, more 
cultivated, poetic, intellectual, ennobling place than the 
racecourse. But do the lovers of racing desert their sport 

102 Man and Superman Act ill 

and flock to the concert room? Not they. They would 
suffer there all the weariness the Commander has suffered 
in heaven. There is the great gulf of the parable between 
the two places. A mere physical gulf they could bridge; 
or at least I could bridge it for them (the earth is full of 
Devil's Bridges); but the gulf of dislike is impassable and 
eternal. And that is the only gulf that separates my friends 
here from those who are invidiously called the blest. 

ANA. I shall go to heaven at once. 

THE STATUE. My child : one word of warning first. Let 
me complete my friend Lucifer's similitude of the classical 
concert. At every one of those concerts in England you 
will find rows of weary people who are there, not because 
they really like classical music, but because they think 
they ought to like it. Well, there is the same thing in 
heaven. A number of people sit there in glory, not be- 
cause they are happy, but because they think they owe it 
to their position to be in heaven. They are almost all 

THE DEVIL. Yes : the Southerners give it up and join me 
just as you have done. But the English really do not seem 
to know when they are thoroughly miserable. An English- 
man thinks he is moral when he is only uncomfortable. 

THE STATUE. In short, my daughter, if you go to Heaven 
without being naturally qualified for it, you will not enjoy 
yourself there. 

ANA. And who dares say that I am not naturally quali- 
fied for it? The most distinguished princes of the Church 
have never questioned it. I owe it to myself to leave this 
place at once. 

THE DEVIL \offended'\ As you please, Senora. I should 
have expected better taste from you. 

ANA. Father : I shall expect you to come with me. You 
cannot stay here. What will people say? 

THE STATUE. Pcople ! Why, the best people are here — 
princes of the church and all. So few go to Heaven, and 
so many come here, that the blest, once called a heavenly 

Act III Man and Superman 103 

host, are a continually dwindling minority. The saints, 
the fathers, the elect of long ago arc the cranks, the fad- 
dists, the outsiders of to-day. 

THE DEVIL. It is truc. From the beginning of my career 
I knew that I should win in the long run by sheer weight 
of public opinion, in spite of the long campaign of mis- 
representation and calumny against me. At bottom the 
universe is a constitutional one ; and with such a majority 
as mine I cannot be kept permanently out of office. 

DON JUAN. I think. Ana, you had better stay here. 

ANA [Jfa/ous/y] You do not want me to go with you. 

DON JUAN. Surely you do not want to enter Heaven in 
the company of a reprobate like me. 

ANA. All souls are equally precious. You repent, do 
you not ? 

DON JUAN. My dear Ana, you are silly. Do you suppose 
heaven is like earth, where people persuade themselves 
that what is done can be undone by repentance; that 
what is spoken can be unspoken by withdrawing it; that 
what is true can be annihilated by a general agreement to 
give it the lie ? No : heaven is the home of the masters of 
reality : that is why I am going thither. 

ANA. Thank you : I am going to heaven for happiness. 
I have had quite enough of reality on earth. 

DON JUAN. Then you must stay here ; for hell is the 
home of the unreal and of the seekers for happiness. It is 
the only refuge from heaven, which is, as I tell you, the 
home of the masters of reality, and from earth, which is 
the home of the slaves of reality. The earth is a nursery in 
which men and women play at being heros and heroines, 
saints and sinners ; but they are dragged down from their 
fool's paradise by their bodies : hunger and cold and thirst, 
age and decay and disease, death above all, make them 
slaves of reality : thrice a day meals must be eaten and 
digested : thrice a century a new generation must be 
engendered : ages of faith, of romance, and of science are 
all driven at last to have but one prayer "Make me a 

I04 Man and Superman Act III 

healthy animal." But here you escape this tyranny of the 
flesh ; for here you are not an animal at all : you are a 
ghost, an appearance, an illusion, a convention, deathless, 
ageless : in a word, bodiless. There are no social questions 
here, no political questions, no religious questions, best of 
all, perhaps, no sanitary questions. Here you call your 
appearance beauty, your emotions love, your sentiments 
heroism, your aspirations virtue, just as you did on earth; 
but here there are no hard facts to contradict you, no 
ironic contrast of your needs with your pretensions, no 
human comedy, nothing but a perpetual romance, a uni- 
versal melodrama. As our German friend put it in his 
poem, "the poetically nonsensical here is good sense; and 
the Eternal Feminine draws us ever upward and on" — 
without getting us a step farther. And yet you want to 
leave this paradise ! 

ANA. But if Hell be so beautiful as this, how glorious 
must heaven be ! 

The Devil^ the Statue, and Don Juan all begin to speak 
at once in violent protest; then stop, abashed, 

DON JUAN. I beg your pardon. 

THE DEVIL. Not at all. I interrupted you. 

THE STATUE. You wcrc goiug to Say something. 

DON JUAN. After you, gentlemen. 

THE DEVIL \to Don J uan'] You have been so eloquent on 
the advantages of my dominions that 1 leave you to do equal 
justice to the drawbacks of the alternative establishment. 

DON JUAN. In Heaven, as I picture it, dear lady, you 
live and work instead of playing and pretending. You 
face things as they are ; you escape nothing but glamor ; 
and your steadfastness and your peril are your glory. If 
the play still goes on here and on earth, and all the world 
is a stage. Heaven is at least behind the scenes. But 
Heaven cannot be described by metaphor. Thither I shall 
go presently, because there I hope to escape at last from 
lies and from the tedious, vulgar pursuit of happiness, to 
spend my eons in contemplation — 

Act III Man and Superman 105 


DON JUAN. Sefior Commander : I do not blame your dis- 
gust : a picture gallery is a dull place for a blind man. 
But even as you enjoy the contemplation of such romantic 
mirages as beauty and pleasure ; so would I enjoy the con- 
templation of that which interests me above all things : 
namely, Life : the force that ever strives to attain greater 
power of contemplating itself. What made this brain of 
mine, do you think ? Not the need to move my limbs ; 
for a rat with half my brains moves as well as I. Not 
merely the need to do, but the need to know what I do, 
lest in my blind efforts to live I should be slaying myself. 

THE STATUE. You would havc slain yourself in your 
blind efforts to fence but for my foot slipping, my friend. 

DON JUAN. Audacious ribald : your laughter will finish 
in hideous boredom before morning. 

THE STATue. Ha ha ! Do you remember how I frightened 
you when I said something like that to you from my 
pedestal in Seville ? It sounds rather flat without my trom- 

DON JUAN. They tell me it generally sounds flat with 
them, Commander. 

ANA. Oh, do not interrupt with these frivolities, father. 
Is there nothing in Heaven but contemplation, Juan? 

DON JUAN. In the Heaven I seek, no other joy. But 
there is the work of helping Life in its struggle upward. 
Think of how it wastes and scatters itself, how it raises 
up obstacles to itself and destroys itself in its ignorance 
and blindness. It needs a brain, this irresistible force, lest 
in its ignorance it should resist itself. What a piece of 
work is man ! says the poet. Yes : but what a blunderer ! 
Here is the highest miracle of organization yet attained by 
life, the most intensely alive thing that exists, the most 
conscious of all the organisms ; and yet, how wretched 
are his brains ! Stupidity made sordid and cruel by the 
realities learnt from toil and poverty : Imagination resolved 
to starve sooner than face these realities, piling up illusions 

io6 Man and Superman Act III 

to hide them, and calling itself cleverness, genius ! And 
each accusing the other of its own defect: Stupidity- 
accusing Imagination of folly, and Imagination accusing 
Stupidity of ignorance : whereas, alas ! Stupidity has all 
the knowledge, and Imagination all the intelligence. 

THE DEVIL. And a pretty kettle offish they make of it 
between them. Did I not say, when I was arranging that 
affair of Faust's, that all Man's reason has done for him is 
to make him beastlier than any beast. One splendid body 
is worth the brains of a hundred dyspeptic, flatulent 

DON JUAN. You forget that brainless magnificence of 
body has been tried. Things immeasurably greater than 
man in every respect but brain have existed and perished. 
The megatherium, the icthyosaurus have paced the earth 
with seven league steps and hidden the day with cloud 
vast wings. Where are they now? Fossils in museums, and 
so few and imperfect at that, that a knuckle bone or a 
tooth of one of them is prized beyond the lives of a thou- 
sand soldiers. These things lived and wanted to live ; but 
for lack of brains they did not know how to carry out 
their purpose, and so destroyed themselves. 

THE DEVIL. And is Man any the less destroying himself 
for all this boasted brain of his ? Have you walked up and 
down upon the earth lately? I have; and I have examined 
Man's wonderful inventions. And I tell you that in the 
arts of life man invents nothing; but in the arts of death 
he outdoes Nature herself, and produces by chemistry and 
machinery all the slaughter of plague, pestilence and 
famine. The peasant I tempt to-day eats and drinks what 
was eaten and drunk by the peasants of ten thousand years 
ago; and the house he lives in has not altered as much in 
a thousand centuries as the fashion of a lady's bonnet in a 
score of weeks. But when he goes out to slay, he carries a 
marvel of mechanism that lets loose at the touch of his 
finger all the hidden molecular energies, and leaves the 
javelin, the arrow, the blowpipe of his fathers far behind. 

Act III Man and Superman 107 

In the arts of peace Man is a bungler. I have seen his 
cotton factories and the like, with machinery that a greedy 
dog could have invented if it had wanted money instead 
of food. I know his clumsy typewriters and bungling loco- 
motives and tedious bicycles : they are toys compared to 
the Maxim gun, the submarine torpedo boat. There is 
nothing in Man's industrial machinery but his greed and 
sloth : his heart is in his weapons. This marvellous force 
of Life of which you boast is a force of Death : Man 
measures his strength by his destructiveness. What is his 
religion? An excuse for hating me. What is his law? An 
excuse for hanging you. What is his morality? Gentility! 
an excuse for consuming without producing. What is his 
art? An excuse for gloating over pictures of slaughter. What 
are his politics? Either the worship of a despot because a 
despot can kill, or parliamentary cockfighting. I spent an 
evening lately in a certain celebrated legislature, and heard 
the pot lecturing the kettle for its blackness, and ministers 
answering questions. When I left I chalked up on the 
door the old nursery saying "Ask no questions and you 
will be told no lies." I bought a sixpenny family magazine, 
and found it full of pictures of young men shooting and 
stabbing one another. I saw a man die : he was a London 
bricklayer's laborer with seven children. He left seventeen 
pounds club money; and his wife spent it all on his 
funeral and went into the workhouse with the children 
next day. She would not have spent sevenpence on her 
children's schooling : the law had to force her to let them 
be taught gratuitously; but on death she spent all she had. 
Their imagination glows, their energies rise up at the idea 
of death, these people: they love it; and the more hor- 
rible it is the more they enjoy it. Hell is a place far above 
their comprehension : they derive their notion of it from 
two of the greatest fools that ever lived, an Italian and an 
Englishman. The Italian described it as a place of mud, 
frost, filth, fire, and venomous serpents : all torture. This 
ass, when he was not lying about me, was maundering 

io8 Man and Superman Act III 

about some woman whom he saw once in the street. The 
Englishman described me as being expelled from Heaven 
by cannons and gunpowder; and to this day every Briton 
believes that the whole of his silly story is in the Bible. 
What else he says I do not know ; for it is all in a long 
poem which neither I nor anyone else ever succeeded in 
wading through. It is the same in everything. The highest 
form of literature is the tragedy, a play in which everybody 
is murdered at the end. In the old chronicles you read of 
earthquakes and pestilences, and are told that these shewed 
the power and majesty of God and the littleness of Man. 
Nowadays the chronicles describe battles. In a battle two 
bodies of men shoot at one another with bullets and ex- 
plosive shells until one body runs away, when the others 
chase the fugitives on horseback and cut them to pieces as 
they fly. And this, the chronicle concludes, shews the 
greatness and majesty of empires, and the littleness of the 
vanquished. Over such battles the people run about the 
streets yelling with delight, and egg their Governments on 
to spend hundreds of millions of money in the slaughter, 
whilst the strongest Ministers dare not spend an extra 
penny in the pound against the poverty and pestilence 
through which they themselves daily walk. I could give 
you a thousand instances ; but they all come to the same 
thing : the power that governs the earth is not the power 
of Life but of Death ; and the inner need that has nerved 
Life to the effort of organizing itself into the human being 
is not the need for higher life but for a more efficient 
engine of destruction. The plague, the famine, the earth- 
quake, the tempest were too spasmodic in their action ; 
the tiger and crocodile were too easily satiated and not 
cruel enough : something more constantly, more ruthlessly, 
more ingeniously destructive was needed; and that some- 
thing was Man, the inventor of the rack, the stake, the 
gallows, and the electrocutor ; of the sword and gun; 
above all, of justice, duty, patriotism and all the other 
isms by which even those who are clever enough to be 

Act III Man and Superman 109 

humanely disposed are persuaded to become the most 
destructive of all the destroyers. 

DON JUAN. Pshaw ! all this is old. Your weak side, my 
diabolic friend, is that you have always been a gull : you 
take Man at his own valuation. Nothing would flatter him 
more than your opinion of him. He loves to think of him- 
self as bold and bad. He is neither one nor the other : he 
is only a coward. Call him tyrant, murderer, pirate, bully ; 
and he will adore you, and swagger about with the con- 
sciousness of having the blood of the old sea kings in his 
veins. Call him liar and thief; and he will only take an 
action against you for libel. But call him coward; and he 
will go mad with rage : he will face death to outface that 
stinging truth. Man gives every reason for his conduct 
save one, every excuse for his crimes save one, every plea 
for his safety save one ; and that one is his cowardice. 
Yet all his civilization is founded on his cowardice, on his 
abject tameness, which he calls his respectability. There 
are limits to what a mule or an ass will stan^ ; but Man 
will suffer himself to be degraded until his vileness be- 
comes so loathsome to his oppressors that they themselves 
arc forced to reform it. 

THE DEVIL. Precisely. And these are the creatures in 
whom you discover what you call a Life Force ! 

DON JUAN. Yes ; for now comes the most surprising part 
of the whole business. 

THE STATUE. Whats that? 

DON JUAN. Why, that you can make any of these cowards 
brave by simply putting an idea into his head. 

THE STATUE. Stuff^! As an old soldier I admit the 
cowardice : it's as universal as sea sickness, and matters 
just as little. But that about putting an idea into a man's 
head is stuff and nonsense. In a battle all you need to 
make you fight is a little hot blood and the knowledge 
that it's more dangerous to lose than to win. 

DON JUAN. That is perhaps why battles are so useless. 
But men never really overcome fear until they imagine 

I lo Man and Superman Act III 

they are fighting to further a universal purpose — fighting 
for an idea, as they call it. Why was the Crusader braver 
than the pirate ? Because he fought, not for himself, but 
for the Cross. What force was it that met him with a valor 
as reckless as his own ? The force of men who fought, not 
for themselves, but for Islam. They took Spain from us, 
though we were fighting for our very hearths and homes ; 
but when we, too, fought for that mighty idea, a Catholic 
Church, we swept them back to Africa. 

THE DEVIL [ironically'] What ! you a Catholic, Senor 
Don Juan ! A devotee ! My congratulations. 

THE STATUE [seriously] Come come ! as a soldier, I can 
listen to nothing against the Church. 

DON JUAN. Have no fear, Commander : this idea of a 
Catholic Church will survive Islam, will survive the Cross, 
will survive even that vulgar pageant of incompetent 
schoolboyish gladiators which you call the Army. 

THE STATUE. Juan : you will force me to call you to 
account for this. 

DON JUAN. Useless : I cannot fence. Every idea for 
which Man will die will be a Catholic idea. When the 
Spaniard learns at last that he is no better than the Saracen, 
and his prophet no better than Mahomet, he will arise, 
more Catholic than ever, and die on a barricade across the 
filthy slum he starves in, for universal liberty and equality. 


DON JUAN. What you call bosh is the only thing men 
dare die for. Later on. Liberty will not be Catholic 
enough : men will die for human perfection, to which they 
will sacrifice all their liberty gladly. 

THE DEVIL. Ay : they will never be at a loss for an ex- 
cuse for killing one another. 

DON JUAN. What of that ? It is not death that matters, 
but the fear of death. It is not killing and dying that 
degrades us, but base living, and accepting the wages and 
profits of degradation. Better ten dead men than one live 
slave or his master. Men shall yet rise up, father against 

Act III Man and Superman 1 1 1 

son and brother against brother, and kill one another for 
the great Catholic idea of abolishing slavery. 

THE DEVIL. Yes, whcn the Liberty and Equality of 
which you prate shall have made free white Christians 
cheaper in the labor market than black heathen slaves sold 
by auction at the block. 

DON JUAN. Never fear ! the white laborer shall have his 
turn too. But I am not now defending the illusory forms 
the great ideas take. I am giving you examples of the fact 
that this creature Man, who in his own selfish affairs is a 
coward to the backbone, will fight for an idea like a hero. 
He may be abject as a citizen ; but he is dangerous as a 
fanatic. He can only be enslaved whilst he is spiritually 
weak enough to listen to reason. I tell you, gentlemen, if 
you can shew a man a piece of what he now calls God's 
work to do, and what he will later on call by many new 
names, you can make him entirely reckless of the conse- 
quences to himself personally. 

ANA. Yes : he shirks all his responsibilities, and leaves 
his wife to grapple with them. 

THE STATUE. Well Said, daughter. Do not let him talk 
you out of your common sense. 

THE DEVIL. Alas ! Scfior Commander, now that we have 
got on to the subject of Woman, he will talk more than 
ever. However, I confess it is for me the one supremely 
interesting subject. 

DON JUAN. To a woman, Senora, man's duties and 
responsibilities begin and end with the task of getting 
bread for her children. To her, Man is only a means to 
the end of getting children and rearing them. 

ANA. Is that your idea of a woman's mind ? I call it 
cynical and disgusting materialism. 

DON JUAN. Pardon me, Ana : I said nothing about a 
woman's whole mind. 1 spoke of her view of Man as a 
separate sex. It is no more cynical than her view of herself 
as above all things a Mother. Sexually, Woman is Nature's 
contrivance for perpetuating its highest achievement. Sexu- 

112 Man and Superman Act ill 

ally, Man is Woman's contrivance for fulfilling Nature's 
behest in the most economical way. She knows by instinct 
that far back in the evolutional process she invented him, 
differentiated him, created him in order to produce some- 
thing better than the single -sexed process can produce. 
Whilst he fulfils the purpose for which she made him, he 
is welcome to his dreams, his follies, his ideals, his heroisms, 
provided that the keystone of them all is the worship of 
woman, of motherhood, of the family, of the hearth. But 
how rash and dangerous it was to invent a separate creature 
whose sole function was her own impregnation ! For mark 
what has happened. First, Man has multiplied on her 
hands until there are as many men as women ; so that she 
has been unable to employ for her purposes more than a 
fraction of the immense energy she has left at his disposal 
by saving him the exhausting labor of gestation. This 
superfluous energy has gone to his brain and to his muscle. 
He has become too strong to be controlled by her bodily, 
and too imaginative and mentally vigorous to be content 
with mere self-reproduction. He has created civilization 
without consulting her, taking her domestic labor for 
granted as the foundation of it. 

ANA. That is true, at all events. 

THE DEVIL. Yes; and this civilization! what is it, after all ? 

DON JUAN. After all, an excellent peg to hang your 
cynical commonplaces on ; but before all, it is an attempt 
on Man's part to make himself something more than the 
mere instrument of Woman's purpose. So far, the result 
of Life's continual effort not only to maintain itself, but 
to achieve higher and higher organization and completer 
self-consciousness, is only, at best, a doubtful campaign 
between its forces and those of Death and Degeneration. 
The battles in this campaign are mere blunders, mostly 
won, like actual military battles, in spite of the commanders. 

THE STATUE. That is a dig at me. No matter : go on, 
go on. 

DON JUAN, It is a dig at a much higher power than you, 

Act III Man and Superman 1 1 3 

Commander. Still, you must have noticed in your pro- 
fession that even a stupid general can win battles when 
the enemy's general is a little stupider. 

THE STATUE [z/ery seriously'] Most true, Juan, most true. 
Some donkeys have amazing luck. 

DON JUAN. Well, the Life Force is stupid ; but it is not 
so stupid as the forces of Death and Degeneration. Besides, 
these are in its pay all the time. And so Life wins, after a 
fashion. What mere copiousness of fecundity can supply 
and mere greed preserve, we possess. The survival of 
whatever form of civilization can produce the best rifle and 
the best fed riflemen is assured. 

THE DEVIL. Exactly! the survival, not of the most 
effective means of Life but of the most effective means 
of Death. You always come back to my point, in spite of 
your wrigglings and evasions and sophistries, not to mention 
the intolerable length of your speeches. 

DON JUAN. Oh come ! who began making long speeches ? 
However, if I overtax your intellect, you can leave us and 
seek the society of love and beauty and the rest of your 
favorite boredoms. 

THE DEVIL [much offended'] This is not fair, Don Juan, 
and not civil. I am also on the intellectual plane. Nobody 
can appreciate it more than I do. I am arguing fairly with 
you, and, I think, utterly refuting you. Let us go on for 
another hour if you like. 

DON JUAN. Good : let us. 

THE STATUE. Not that I scc any prospect of ^our coming 
to any point in particular, Juan. Still, since in this place, 
instead of merely killing time we have to kill eternity, go 
ahead by all means. 

DON JUAN [somewhat impatiently'] My point, you marble- 
headed old masterpiece, is only a step ahead of you. Are 
we agreed that Life is a force which has made innumerable 
experiments in organizing itself; that the mammoth and 
the man, the mouse and the megatherium, the flies and 
the fleas and the Fathers of the Church, are all more or 


114 Man and Superman Act III 

less successful attempts to build up that raw force into 
higher and higher individuals, the ideal individual being 
omnipotent, omniscient, infallible, and withal completely, 
unilludedly self-conscious : in short, a god ? 

THE DEVIL. I agree, for the sake of argument. 

THE STATUE. I agree, for the sake of avoiding argument. 

ANA. I most emphatically disagree as regards the Fathers 
of the Church; and I must beg you not to drag them into 
the argument. 

DON JUAN. I did so purely for the sake of alliteration. 
Ana ; and I shall make no further allusion to them. And 
now, since we are, with that exception, agreed so far, will 
you not agree with me further that Life has not measured 
the success of its attempts at godhead by the beauty or 
bodily perfection of the result, since in both these respects 
the birds, as our friend Aristophanes long ago pointed out, 
are so extraordinarily superior, with their power of iflight 
and their lovely plumage, and, may I add, the touching 
poetry of their loves and nestings, that it is inconceivable 
that Life, having once produced them, should, if love and 
beauty were her object, start off on another line and labor 
at the clumsy elephant and the hideous ape, whose grand- 
children we are ? 

ANA. Aristophanes was a heathen ; and you, Juan, I am 
afraid, are very little better. 

THE DEVIL. You coucludc, then, that Life was driving 
at clumsiness and ugliness ? 

DON JUAN. No, perverse devil that you are, a thousand 
times no. Life was driving at brains — at its darling object: 
an organ by which it can attain not only self-consciousness 
but self-understanding. 

THE STATUE. This is mctaphysics, Juan. Why the devil 
should — [to The Devil] I beg your pardon. 

THE DEVIL. Pray dont mention it. I have always re- 
garded the use of my name to secure additional emphasis 
as a high compliment to me. It is quite at your service, 

Act III Man and Superman 115 

THE STATUE. Thank you : thats very good of you. Even 
in heaven, I never quite got out of my old military habits 
of speech. What I was going to ask Juan was why Life 
should bother itself about getting a brain. Why should it 
want to understand itself? Why not be content to enjoy 

DON JUAN. Without a brain, Commander, you would 
enjoy yourself without knowing it, and so lose all the 

THE STATUE. Truc, most true. But I am quite content 
with brain enough to know that I'm enjoying myself. I 
dont want to understand why. In fact, I'd rather not. My 
experience is that ones pleasures dont bear thinking 

DON JUAN. That is why intellect is so unpopular. But to 
Life, the force behind the Man, intellect is a necessity, 
because without it he blunders into death. Just as Life, 
after ages of struggle, evolved that wonderful bodily organ 
the eye, so that the living organism could see where it 
was going and what was coming to help or threaten it, 
and thus avoid a thousand dangers that formerly slew it, 
so it is evolving today a mind's eye that shall see, not the 
physical world, but the purpose of Life, and thereby 
enable the individual to work for that purpose instead of 
thwarting and baffling it by setting up shortsighted personal 
aims as at present. Even as it is, only one sort of man has 
ever been happy, has ever been universally respected among 
all the conflicts of interests and illusions. 

THE STATUE. You mean the military man. 

DON JUAN. Commander: I do not mean the military 
man. When the military man approaches, the world locks 
up its spoons and packs ofi^ its womankind. No : I sing, 
not arms and the hero, but the philosophic man : he who 
seeks in contemplation to discover the inner will of the 
world, in invention to discover the means of fulfilling that 
will, and in action to do that will by the so-discovered 
means. Of all other sorts of men I declare myself tired. They 

1 1 6 Man and Superman Act ill 

are tedious failures. When I was on earth, professors of 
all sorts prowled round me feeling for an unhealthy spot 
in me on which they could fasten. The doctors of medicine 
bade me consider what I must do to save my body, and 
oifered me quack cures for imaginary diseases. I replied 
that I was not a hypochondriac ; so they called me Ignor- 
amus and went their way. The doctors of divinity bade 
me consider what I must do to save my soul ; but I was 
not a spiritual hypochondriac any more than a bodily one, 
and would not trouble myself about that either; so they 
called me Atheist and went their way. After them came 
the politician, who said there was only one purpose in 
Nature, and that was to get him into parliament. I told 
him I did not care whether he got into parliament or not ; 
so he called me Mugwump and went his way. Then 
came the romantic man, the Artist, with his love songs 
and his paintings and his poems; and with him I had 
great delight for many years, and some profit ; for I culti- 
vated my senses for his sake ; and his songs taught me to 
hear better, his paintings to see better, and his poems to 
feel more deeply. But he led me at last into the worship 
of Woman. 

ANA. Juan ! 

DON JUAN. Yes : I came to believe that in her voice 
was all the music of the song, in her face all the beauty 
of the painting, and in her soul all the emotion of the 

ANA. And you were disappointed, I suppose. Well, was 
it her fault that you attributed all these perfections to her? 

DON JUAN. Yes, partly. For with a wonderful instinctive 
cunning, she kept silent and allowed me to glorify her; to 
mistake my own visions, thoughts, and feelings for hers. 
Now my friend the romantic man was often too poor or 
too timid to approach those women who were beautiful or 
refined enough to seem to realize his ideal ; and so he 
went to his grave believing in his dream. But I was more 
favored by nature and circumstance. I was of noble 

Act III Man and Superman 117 

birth and rich ; and when my person did not please, my 
conversation flattered, though I generally found myself 
fortunate in both. 


DON JUAN. Yes ; but even my coxcombry pleased. 
Well, I found that when I had touched a woman's imagina- 
tion, she would allow me to persuade myself that she 
loved me ; but when my suit was granted she never said 
" I am happy : my love is satisfied " : she always said, first, 
"At last, the barriers are down," and second, **When 
will you come again?" 

ANA. That is exactly what men say. 

DON JUAN. I protest 1 never said it. But all women say 
it. Well, these two speeches always alarmed me ; for the 
first meant that the lady's impulse had been solely to 
throw down my fortifications and gain my citadel ; and 
the second openly announced that henceforth she regarded 
me as her property, and counted my time as already 
wholly at her disposal. 

THE DEVIL. That is where your want of heart came in. 

THE STATUE [shaking his head[\ You shouldnt repeat what 
a woman says, Juan. 

ANA \severelj\ It should be sacred to you. 

THE STATUE. Still, they certainly do say it. I never 
minded the barriers ; but there was always a slight shock 
about the other, unless one was very hard hit indeed. 

DON JUAN. Then the lady, who had been happy and idle 
enough before, became anxious, preoccupied with me, 
always intriguing, conspiring, pursuing, watching, waiting, 
bent wholly on making sure of her prey — I being the 
prey, you understand. Now this was not what I had bar- 
gained for. It may have been very proper and very natural ; 
but it was not music, painting, poetry and joy incarnated 
in a beautiful woman. I ran away from it. I ran away 
from it very often : in fact I became famous for running 
away from it. 

ANA. Infamous, you mean. 

1 1 8 Man and Superman Act III 

DON JUAN. I did not run away from you. Do you blame 
me for running away from the others ? 

ANA. Nonsense, man. You are talking to a woman of 
"I"] now. If you had had the chance, you would have 
run away from me too — if I had let you. You would 
not have found it so easy with me as with some of the 
others. If men will not be faithful to their home and their 
duties, they must be made to be. I daresay you all want 
to marry lovely incarnations of music and painting and 
poetry. Well, you cant have them, because they dont 
exist. If flesh and blood is not good enough for you you 
must go without : thats all. Women have to put up with 
flesh-and-blood husbands — and little enough of that too, 
sometimes; and you will have to put up with flesh-and- 
blood wives. [The Devil looks dubious. The Statue makes a 
wry /ace]. I see you dont like that, any of you ; but its 
true, for all that; so if you dont like it you can lump it. 

DON JUAN. My dear lady, you have put my whole case 
against romance into a few sentences. That is just why I 
turned my back on the romantic man with the artist 
nature, as he called his infatuation. I thanked him for 
teaching me to use my eyes and ears; but I told him that 
his beauty worshipping and happiness hunting and woman 
idealizing was not worth a dump as a philosophy of life ; 
so he called me Philistine and went his way. 

ANA. It seems that Woman taught you something, too, 
with all her defects. 

DON JUAN. She did more: she interpreted all the other 
teaching for me. Ah, my friends, when the barriers were 
down for the first time, what an astounding illumination ! 
I had been prepared for infatuation, for intoxication, for 
all the illusions of love's young dream; and lo! never was 
my perception clearer, nor my criticism more ruthless. 
The most jealous rival of my mistress never saw every 
blemish in her more keenly than I. I was not duped : I 
took her without chloroform. 

ANA. But you did take her. 

Act III Man and Superman 119 

DON JUAN. That was the revelation. Up to that moment 
I had never lost the sense of being my own master ; never 
consciously taken a single step until my reason had ex- 
amined and approved it. I had come to believe that I 
was a purely rational creature : a thinker ! I said, with 
the foolish philosopher, " I think ; therefore I am." It 
was Woman who taught me to say "I am ; therefore I 
think." And also " I would think more ; therefore I must 
be more." 

THE STATUE. This is cxtrcmcly abstract and meta- 
physical, Juan. If you would stick to the concrete, and 
put your discoveries in the form of entertaining anecdotes 
about your adventures with women, your conversation 
would be easier to follow. 

DON JUAN. Bah! what need I add? Do you not under- 
stand that when I stood face to face with Woman, every 
fibre in my clear critical brain warned me to spare her and 
save myself. My morals said No. My conscience said No. 
My Chivalry and pity for her said No. My prudent regard 
for myself said No. My ear, practised on a thousand songs 
and symphonies; my eye, exercised on a thousand paint- 
ings ; tore her voice, her features, her color to shreds. I 
caught all those tell-tale resemblances to her father and 
mother by which I knew what she would be like in thirty 
years time. I noted the gleam of gold from a dead tooth 
in the laughing mouth : I made curious observations of 
the strange odors of the chemistry of the nerves. The 
visions of my romantic reveries, in which I had trod the 
plains of heaven with a deathless, ageless creature of coral 
and ivory, deserted me in that supreme hour. I remem- 
bered them and desperately strove to recover their illusion; 
but they now seemed the emptiest of inventions : my 
judgment was not to be corrupted : my brain still said No 
on every issue. And whilst I was in the act of framing my 
excuse to the lady. Life seized me and threw me into her 
arms as a sailor throws a scrap of fish into the mouth of a 

I20 Man and Superman Act III 

THE STATUE. You might as well have gone without 
thinking such a lot about it, Juan. You are like all the 
clever men : you have more brains than is good for you. 

THE DEVIL. And were you not the happier for the 
experience, Senor Don Juan? 

DON JUAN. The happier, no : the wiser, yes. That 
moment introduced me for the first time to myself, and, 
through myself, to the world. I saw then how useless it is 
to attempt to impose condition-s on the irresistible force of 
Life ; to preach prudence, careful selection, virtue, honor, 
chastity — 

ANA. Don Juan : a word against chastity is an insult 
to me. 

DON JUAN. I say nothing against your chastity, Sefiora, 
since it took the form of a husband and twelve children. 
What more could you have done had you been the most 
abandoned of women .? 

ANA. I could have had twelve husbands and no children : 
thats what I could have done, Juan. And let me tell you 
that that would have made all the difference to the earth 
which I replenished. 

THE STATUE. Bravo Ana ! Juan : you are floored, quelled, 

DON JUAN. No; for though that difference is the true 
essential difference — Doiia Ana has, I admit, gone straight 
to the real point — yet it is not a difference of love or 
chastity, or even constancy ; for twelve children by twelve 
different husbands would have replenished the earth per- 
haps more effectively. Suppose my friend Ottavio had died 
when you were thirty, you would never have remained a 
widow : you were too beautiful. Suppose the successor of 
Ottavio had died when you were forty, you would still 
have been irresistible ; and a woman who marries twice 
marries three times if she becomes free to do so. Twelve 
lawful children borne by one highly respectable lady to 
three different fathers is not impossible nor condemned by 
public opinion. That such a lady may be more law abiding 

Act III Man and Superman 121 

than the poor girl whom we used to spurn into the gutter 
for bearing one unlawful infant is no doubt true ; but dare 
you say she is less self-indulgent? 

ANA. She is less virtuous : that is enough for me. 

DON JUAN. In that case, what is virtue but the Trade 
Unionism of the married ? Let us face the facts, dear Ana. 
The Life Force respects marriage only because marriage is 
a contrivance of its own to secure the greatest number of 
children and the closest care of them. For honor, chastity, 
and all the rest of your moral figments it cares not a rap. 
Marriage is the most licentious of human institutions — 

ANA. Juan ! 

THE STATUE [protesting] Really ! — 

DON JUAN [determinedly] I say the most licentious of 
human institutions : that is the secret of its popularity. 
And a woman seeking a husband is the most unscrupulous 
of all the beasts of prey. The confusion of marriage with 
morality has done more to destroy the conscience of the 
human race than any other single error. Come, Ana ! do 
not look shocked : you know better than any of us that 
marriage is a mantrap baited with simulated accomplish- 
ments and delusive idealizations. When your sainted 
mother, by dint of scoldings and punishments, forced you 
to learn how to play half a dozen pieces on the spinet — 
which she hated as much as you did — had she any other 
purpose than to delude your suitors into the belief that 
your husband would have in his home an angel who would 
fill it with melody, or at least play him to sleep after 
dinner? You married my friend Ottavio: well, did you 
ever open the spinet from the hour when the Church 
united him to you ? 

ANA. You are a fool, Juan. A young married woman 
has something else to do than sit at the spinet without 
any support for her back ; so she gets out of the habit of 

DON JUAN. Not if she loves music. No : believe me, she 
only throws away the bait when the bird is in the net. 

122 Man and Superman Act ill 

ANA [bitterly'] And men, I suppose, never throw ofF the 
mask when their bird is in the net. The husband never 
becomes negligent, selfish, brutal — oh never ! 

DON JUAN. What do these recriminations prove. Ana? 
Only that the hero is as gross an imposture as the heroine. 

ANA. It is all nonsense : most marriages are perfectly 

DON JUAN. " Perfectly " is a strong expression, Ana. 
What you mean is that sensible people make the best of 
one another. Send me to the galleys and chain me to the 
felon whose number happens to be next before mine ; and 
I must accept the inevitable and make the best of the 
companionship. Many such companionships, they tell me, 
are touchingly affectionate ; and most are at least tolerably 
friendly. But that does not make a chain a desirable orna- 
ment nor the galleys an abode of bliss. Those who talk 
most about the blessings of marriage and the constancy of 
its vows are the very people who declare that if the chain 
were broken and the prisoners left free to choose, the 
whole social fabric would fly asunder. You cannot have 
the argument both ways. If the prisoner is happy, why 
lock him in.? If he is not, why pretend that he is? 

ANA. At all events, let me take an old woman's privi- 
lege again, and tell you flatly that marriage peoples the 
world and debauchery does not. 

DON JUAN. How if a time come when this shall cease 
to be true ? Do you not know that where there is a will 
there is a way — that whatever Man really wishes to do he 
will finally discover a means of doing? Well, you have 
done your best, you virtuous ladies, and others of your way 
of thinking, to bend Man's mind wholly towards honor- 
able love as the highest good, and to understand by honor- 
able love romance and beauty and happiness in the posses- 
sion of beautiful, refined, delicate, affectionate women. 
You have taught women to value their own youth, health, 
shapeliness, and refinement above all things. Well, what 
place have squalling babies and household cares in this 

Act III Man and Superman 123 

exquisite paradise of the senses and emotions? Is it not the 
inevitable end of it all that the human will shall say to the 
human brain : Invent me a means by which I can have love, 
beauty, romance, emotion, passion without their wretched 
penalties, their expenses, their worries, their trials, their 
illnesses and agonies and risks of death, their retinue of 
servants and nurses and doctors and schoolmasters. 

THE DEVIL. All this, Scilor Don Juan, is realized here in 
my realm. 

DON JUAN. Yes, at the cost of death. Man will not take 
it at that price : he demands the romantic delights of your 
hell whilst he is still on earth. Well, the means will be 
found : the brain will not fail when the will is in earnest. 
The day is coming when great nations will find their 
numbers dwindling from census to census; when the six 
roomed villa will rise in price above the family mansion ; 
when the viciously reckless poor and the stupidly pious 
rich will delay the extinction of the race only by degrading 
it ; whilst the boldly prudent, the thriftily selfish and 
ambitious, the imaginative and poetic, the lovers of money 
and solid comfort, the worshippers of success, of art, and 
of love, will all oppose to the Force of Life the device of 

THE STATUE. That is all very eloquent, my young friend ; 
but if you had lived to Ana's age, or even to mine, you 
would have learned that the people who get rid of the fear 
of poverty and children and all the other family troubles, 
and devote themselves to having a good time of it, only 
leave their minds free for the fear of old age and ugliness 
and impotence and death. The childless laborer is more 
tormented by his wife's idleness and her constant demands 
for amusement and distraction than he could be by twenty 
children ; and his wife is more wretched than he. I have 
had my share of vanity ; for as a young man I was admired 
by women; and as a statue I am praised by art critics. 
But I confess that had I found nothing to do in the world 
but wallow in these delights I should have cut my throat. 

1 24 Man and Superman Act III 

When I married Ana's mother — or perhaps, to be strictly 
correct, I should rather say when I at last gave in and 
allowed Ana's mother to marry me — I knew that I was 
planting thorns in my pillow, and that marriage for me, a 
swaggering young officer thitherto unvanquished, meant 
defeat and capture. 

ANA [scandalized^ Father! 

THE STATUE. I am sorry to shock you, my love ; but since 
Juan has stripped every rag of decency from the discussion 
I may as well tell the frozen truth. 

ANA. Hmf ! I suppose I was one of the thorns. 

THE STATUE. By no means : you were often a rose. You 
see, your mother had most of the trouble you gave. 

DON JUAN. Then may I ask. Commander, why you have 
left Heaven to come here and wallow, as you express it, 
in sentimental beatitudes which you confess would once 
have driven you to cut your throat ? 

THE STATUE [struck by this\ Egad, thats true. 

THE DEVIL \alarmed'\ What ! You are going back from 
your word! \To Don J^uan] And all your philosophizing 
has been nothing but a mask for proselytizing! [Tb the 
Statue^ Have you forgotten already the hideous dulness 
from which I am offering you a refuge here? \To Don 
yuan] And does your demonstration of the approaching 
sterilization and extinction of mankind lead to anything 
better than making the most of those pleasures of art and 
love which you yourself admit refined you, elevated you, 
developed you ? 

DON JUAN. I never demonstrated the extinction of man- 
kind. Life cannot will its own extinction either in its blind 
amorphous state or in any of the forms into which it has 
organized itself. I had not finished when His Excellency 
interrupted me. 

THE STATUE. I begin to doubt whether you ever will finish, 
my friend. You are extremely fond of hearing yourself talk. 

DON JUAN. True ; but since you have endured so much, 
you may as well endure to the end. Long before this 

Act III Man and Superman 125 

sterilization which I described becomes more than a clearly 
foreseen possibility, the reaction will begin. The great 
central purpose of breeding the race, ay, breeding it to 
heights now deemed superhuman : that purpose which is now 
hidden in a mephitic cloud of love and romance and prudery 
and fastidiousness, will break through into clear sunlight 
as a purpose no longer to be confused with the gratification 
of personal fancies, the impossible realization of boys' and 
girls' dreams of bliss, or the need of older people for com- 
panionship or money. The plain-spoken marriage service 
of the vernacular Churches will no longer be abbreviated 
and half suppressed as indelicate. The sober decency, 
earnestness and authority of their declaration of the real 
purpose of marriage will be honored and accepted, whilst 
their romantic vowings and pledgings and until-death-do-us- 
partings and the like will be expunged as unbearable frivol- 
ities. Do my sex the justice to admit, Senora, that we 
have always recognized that the sex relation is not a personal 
or friendly relation at all. 

ANA. Not a personal or friendly relation ! What relation 
is more personal ? more sacred ? more holy ? 

DON JUAN. Sacred and holy, if you like. Ana, but not 
personally friendly. Your relation to God is sacred and holy: 
dare you call it personally friendly ? In the sex relation the 
universal creative energy, of which the parties are both the 
helpless agents, over-rides and sweeps away all personal 
considerations and dispenses with all personal relations. 
The pair may be utter strangers to one another, speaking 
different languages, differing in race and color, in age and 
disposition, with no bond between them but a possibility 
of that fecundity for the sake of which the Life Force 
throws them into one another's arms at the exchange of a 
glance. Do we not recognize this by allowing marriages to 
be made by parents without consulting the woman ? Have 
you not often expressed your disgust at the immorality of 
the English nation, in which women and men of noble 
birth become acquainted and court each other like peasants? 

126 Man and Superman Act ill 

And how much does even the peasant know of his bride or 
she of him before he engages himself? Why, you would 
not make a man your lawyer or your family doctor on so 
slight an acquaintance as you would fall in love with and 
marry him ! 

ANA. Yes, Juan : we know the libertine's philosophy. 
Always ignore the consequences to the woman. 

DON JUAN. The consequences, yes : they justify her 
fierce grip of the man. But surely you do not call that 
attachment a sentimental one. As well call the police- 
man's attachment to his prisoner a love relation. 

ANA. You see you have to confess that marriage is 
necessary, though, according to you, love is the slightest 
of all the relations. 

DON JUAN. How do you know that it is not the greatest 
of all the relations ? far too great to be a personal matter. 
Could your father have served his country if he had refused 
to kill any enemy of Spain unless he personally hated him? 
Can a woman serve her country if she refuses to marry any 
man she does not personally love ? You know it is not so : 
the woman of noble birth marries as the man of noble 
birth fights, on political and family grounds, not on personal 

THE STATUE [impressed] A very clever point that, Juan : 
I must think it over. You are really full of ideas. How did 
you come to think of this one ? 

DON JUAN. I learnt it by experience. When I was on 
earth, and made those proposals to ladies which, though 
universally condemned, have made me so interesting a 
hero of legend, I was not infrequently met in some such way 
as this. The lady would say that she would countenance 
my advances, provided they were honorable. On inquiring 
what that proviso meant, I found that it meant that I pro- 
posed to get possession of her property if she had any, or 
to undertake her support for life if she had not; that I 
desired her continual companionship, counsel and con- 
versation to the end of my days, and would bind myself 

Act III Man and Superman 127 

under penalties to be always enraptured by them ; and, 
above all, that I would turn my back on all other women 
for ever for her sake. I did not object to these conditions 
because they were exorbitant and inhuman : it was their 
extraordinary irrelevance that prostrated me. I invariably 
replied with perfect frankness that I had never dreamt of 
any of these things ; that unless the lady's character and 
intellect were equal or superior to my own, her conversa- 
tion must degrade and her counsel mislead me ; that her 
constant companionship might, for all I knew, become in- 
tolerably tedious to me ; that I could not answer for my 
feelings for a week in advance, much less to the end of my 
life ; that to cut me off from all natural and unconstrained 
relations with the rest of my fellow creatures would narrow 
and warp me if I submitted to it, and, if not, would bring 
me under the curse of clandestinity ; that, finally, my pro- 
posals to her were wholly unconnected with any of these 
matters, and were the outcome of a perfectly simple im- 
pulse of my manhood towards her womanhood. 

ANA. You mean that it was an immoral impulse. 

DON JUAN. Nature, my dear lady, is what you call 
immoral. I blush for it; but I cannot help it. Nature is 
a pandar. Time a wrecker, and Death a murderer. I have 
always preferred to stand up to those facts and build 
institutions on their recognition. You prefer to propitiate 
the three devils by proclaiming their chastity, their thrift, 
and their loving kindness ; and to base your institutions on 
these flatteries. Is it any wonder that the institutions do 
not work smoothly ? 

THE STATUE. What uscd the ladies to say, Juan? 

DON JUAN. Oh come ! Confidence for confidence. First 
tell me what you used to say to the ladies. 

THE STATUE. I ! Oh, I sworc that I would be faithful 
to the death ; that I should die if they refused me ; that 
no woman could ever be to me what she was — 

ANA. She! Who? 

THE STATUE. Whoevcf it happened to be at the time, 

128 Man and Superman Act III 

my dear. I had certain things I always said. One of them 
was that even when I was eighty, one white hair of the 
woman I loved would make me tremble more than the 
thickest gold tress from the most beautiful young head. 
Another was that I could not bear the thought of anyone 
else being the mother of my children. 

DON JUAN [revoIted'\ You old rascal ! 

THE STATUE \_stoutly'] Not a bit ; for I really believed it 
with all my soul at the moment. I had a heart : not like 
you. And it was this sincerity that made me successful. 

DON JUAN. Sincerity ! To be fool enough to believe a 
ramping, stamping, thumping lie : that is what you call 
sincerity ! To be so greedy for a woman that you deceive 
yourself in your eagerness to deceive her : sincerity, you 
call it ! 

THE STATUE. Oh, damn your sophistries ! I was a man in 
love, not a lawyer. And the women loved me for it, bless 

DON JUAN. They made you think so. What will you say 
when I tell you that though I played the lawyer so 
callously, they made me think so too ? I also had my 
moments of infatuation in which I gushed nonsense and 
believed it. Sometimes the desire to give pleasure by saying 
beautiful things so rose in me on the flood of emotion that 
I said them recklessly. At other times I argued against my- 
self with a devilish coldness that drew tears. But I found 
it just as hard to escape in the one case as in the others. 
When the lady's instinct was set on me, there was nothing 
for it but lifelong servitude or flight. 

ANA. You dare boast, before me and my father, that 
every woman found you irresistible. 

DON JUAN. Am I boasting? It seems to me that I cut the 
most pitiable of figures. Besides, I said "when the lady's 
instinct was set on me." It was not always so ; and then, 
heavens ! what transports of virtuous indignation ! what 
overwhelming defiance to the dastardly seducer ! what 
scenes of Imogen and lachimo ! 

Act III Man and Superman 129 

ANA. I made no scenes. I simply called my father. 

DON JUAN. And he came, sword in hand, to vindicate 
outraged honor and morality by murdering me. 

THE STATUE. Murdering! What do you mean? Did I 
kill you or did you kill me ? 

DON JUAN. Which of us was the better fencer? 


DON JUAN. Of course you were. And yet you, the hero 
of those scandalous adventures you have just been relating 
to us, you had the effrontery to pose as the avenger of out- 
raged morality and condemn me to death. You would have 
slain me but for an accident. 

THE STATUE. I was expected to, Juan. That is how things 
were arranged on earth. I was not a social reformer; and 
[ always did what it was customary for a gentleman to do. 

DON JUAN. That may account for your attacking me, but 
not for the revolting hypocrisy of your subsequent proceed- 
ings as a statue. 

THE STATUE. That all came of my going to Heaven. 

THE DEVIL. I Still fail to see, Senor Don Juan, that these 
episodes in your earthly career and in that of the Senor 
Commander in any way discredit my view of life. Here, I 
repeat, you have all that you sought without anything that 
you shrank from. 

DON JUAN. On the contrary, here I have everything that 
disappointed me without anything that I have not already 
tried and found wanting. I tell you that as long as I can 
conceive something better than myself I cannot be easy 
unless I am striving to bring it into existence or clearing 
the way for it. That is the law of my life. That is the 
working within me of Life's incessant aspiration to higher 
organization, wider, deeper, intenser self-consciousness, and 
clearer self-understanding. It was the supremacy of this 
purpose that reduced love for me to the mere pleasure of a 
moment, art for me to the mere schooling of my faculties, 
religion for mc to a mere excuse for laziness, since it had 
set up a God who looked at the world and saw that it was 


130 Man and Superman Act III 

good, against the instinct in me that looked through my 
eyes at the world and saw that it could be improved. I tell 
you that in the pursuit of my own pleasure, my own health, 
my own fortune, I have never known happiness. It was not 
love for Woman that delivered me into her hands : it was 
fatigue, exhaustion. When I was a child, and bruised my 
head against a stone, I ran to the nearest woman and cried 
away my pain against her apron. When I grew up, and 
bruised my soul against the brutalities and stupidities with 
which I had to strive, I did again just what I had done as 
a child. I have enjoyed, too, my rests, my recuperations, 
my breathing times, my very prostrations after strife ; but 
rather would I be dragged through all the circles of the 
foolish Italian's Inferno than through the pleasures of 
Europe. That is what has made this place of eternal plea- 
sures so deadly to me. It is the absence of this instinct in 
you that makes you that strange monster called a Devil. 
It is the success with which you have diverted the attention 
of men from their real purpose, which in one degree or 
another is the same as mine, to yours, that has earned you 
the name of The Tempter. It is the fact that they are 
doing your will, or rather drifting with your want of will, 
instead of doing their own, that makes them the uncom- 
fortable, false, restless, artificial, petulant, wretched creatures 
they are. 

THE DEVIL [mortified'^ Senor Don Juan : you are uncivil 
to my friends. 

DON JUAN. Pooh ! why should I be civil to them or to 
you .'' In this Palace of Lies a truth or two will not hurt 
you. Your friends are all the dullest dogs I know. They 
are not beautiful : they are only decorated. They are not 
clean : they are only shaved and starched. They are not 
dignified : they are only fashionably dressed. They are not 
educated : they are only college passmen. They are not 
religious : they are only pewrenters. They are not moral : 
they are only conventional. They are not virtuous : they 
are only cowardly. They are not even vicious : they are 

Act III Man and Superman 1 3 1 

only "frail." They are not artistic : they are only lascivi- 
ous. They are not prosperous : they are only rich. They 
are not loyal, they are only servile ; not dutiful, only 
sheepish ; not public spirited, only patriotic ; not courage- 
ous, only quarrelsome; not determined, only obstinate; 
not masterful, only domineering ; not self-controlled, only 
obtuse ; not self-respecting, only vain ; not kind, only 
sentimental ; not social, only gregarious ; not considerate, 
only polite; not intelligent, only opinionated; not pro- 
gressive, only factious; not imaginative, only superstitious ; 
not just, only vindictive; not generous, only propitiatory; 
not disciplined, only cowed; and not truthful at all — liars 
every one of them, to the very backbone of their souls. 

THE STATUE. Your flovv of words is simply amazing, 
Juan. How I wish I could have talked like that to my 

THE DEVIL. It is mcrc talk, though. It has all been said 
before ; but what change has it ever made ? What notice 
has the world ever taken of it? 

DON JUAN. Yes, it is mere talk. But why is it mere talk ? 
Because, my friend, beauty, purity, respectability, religion, 
morality, art, patriotism, bravery and the rest are nothing 
but words which I or anyone else can turn inside out like 
a glove. Were they realities, you would have to plead 
guilty to my indictment ; but fortunately for your self- 
respect, my diabolical friend, they are not realities. As you 
say, they are mere words, useful for duping barbarians into 
adopting civilization, or the civilized poor into submitting 
to be robbed and enslaved. That is the family secret of the 
governing caste ; and if we who are of that caste aimed at 
more Life for the world instead of at more power and 
luxury for our miserable selves, that secret would make us 
great. Now, since I, being a nobleman, am in the secret 
too, think how tedious to me must be your unending cant 
about all these moralistic figments, and how squalidly dis- 
astrous your sacrifice of your lives to them! If you even 
believed in your moral game enough to play it fairly, it 

132 Man and Superman Act ill 

would be interesting to watch; but you dont : you cheat 
at every trick; and if your opponent outcheats you, you 
upset the table and try to murder him. 

THE DEVIL. On earth there may be some truth in this, 
because the people are uneducated and cannot appreciate 
my religion of love and beauty; but here — 

DON JUAN. Oh yes : I know. Here there is nothing but 
love and beauty. Ugh ! it is like sitting for all eternity at 
the first act of a fashionable play, before the complications 
begin. Never in my worst moments of superstitious terror 
on earth did I dream that Hell was so horrible. I live, like 
a hairdresser, in the continual contemplation of beauty, 
toying with silken tresses. I breathe an atmosphere of 
sweetness, like a confectioner's shopboy. Commander : are 
there any beautiful women in Heaven ? 

THE STATUE. Nonc. Absolutcly none. All dowdies. Not 
two pennorth of jewellery among a dozen of them. They 
might be men of fifty. 

DON JUAN. T am impatient to get there. Is the word 
beauty ever mentioned; and are there any artistic people? 

THE STATUE. I givc you my word they wont admire a 
fine statue even when it walks past them. 

DON JUAN. I go. 

THE DEVIL. Don Juan : shall I be frank with you? 

DON JUAN. Were you not so before ? 

THE DEVIL. As far as I went, yes. But I will now go 
further, and confess to you that men get tired of every- 
thing, of heaven no less than of hell ; and that all history 
is nothing but a record of the oscillations of the world be- 
tween these two extremes. An epoch is but a swing of the 
pendulum ; and each generation thinks the world is pro- 
gressing because it is always moving. But when you are as 
old as I am ; when you have a thousand times wearied of 
heaven, like myself and the Commander, and a thousand 
times wearied of hell, as you are wearied now, you will 
no longer imagine that every swing from heaven to hell 
is an emancipation, every swing from hell to heaven an 

Act III Man and Superman 133 

evolution. Where you now see reform, progress, fulfilment 
of upward tendency, continual ascent by Man on the step- 
ping stones of his dead selves to higher things, you will see 
nothing but an infinite comedy of illusion. You will dis- 
cover the profound truth of the saying of my friend Kohe- 
leth, that there is nothing new under the sun. Vanitas 
vanitatum — 

DON JUAN [out of all patience'] By Heaven, this is worse 
than your cant about love and beauty. Clever dolt that you 
are, is a man no better than a worm, or a dog than a wolf, 
because he gets tired of everything? Shall he give up eating 
because he destroys his appetite in the act of gratifying it ? 
Is a field idle when it is fallow? Can the Commander 
expend his hellish energy here without accumulating 
heavenly energy for his next term of blessedness ? Granted 
that the great Life Force has hit on the device of the clock- 
maker's pendulum, and uses the earth for its bob ; that the 
history of each oscillation, which seems so novel to us the 
actors, is but the history of the last oscillation repeated ; 
nay more, that in the unthinkable infinitude of time the 
sun throws off the earth and catches it again a thousand 
times as a circus rider throws up a ball, and that the total 
of all our epochs is but the moment between the toss and 
the catch, has the colossal mechanism no purpose ? 

THE DEVIL. None, my friend. You think, because you 
have a purpose. Nature must have one. You might as well 
expect it to have fingers and toes because you have them. 

DON JUAN. But I should not have them if they served no 
purpose. And I, my friend, am as much a part of Nature 
as my own finger is a part of mc. If my finger is the organ 
by which I grasp the sword and the mandoline, my brain 
is the organ by which Nature strives to understand itself. 
My dog's brain serves only my dog's purposes; but my 
brain labors at a knowledge which does nothing for me 
personally but make my body bitter to me and my decay 
and death a calamity. Were I not possessed with a purpose 
beyond my own I had better be a ploughman than a philo- 

134 Man and Superman Act ill 

sopher; for the ploughman lives as long as the philosopher, 
eats more, sleeps better, and rejoices in the wife of his bosom 
with less misgiving. This is because the philosopher is in 
the grip of the Life Force. This Life Force says to him "I 
have done a thousand wonderful things unconsciously by 
merely willing to live and following the line of least resist- 
ance : now I want to know myself and my destination, and 
choose my path ; so I have made a special brain — a philo- 
sopher's brain — to grasp this knowledge for me as the 
husbandman's hand grasps the plough for me. And this'* 
says the Life Force to the philosopher "must thou strive to 
do for me until thou diest, when I will make another brain 
and another philosopher to carry on the work." 

THE DEVIL. What is the use of knowing? 

DON JUAN. Why, to be able to choose the line of greatest 
advantage instead of yielding in the direction of the least 
resistance. Does a ship sail to its destination no better than 
a log drifts nowhither? The philosopher is Nature's pilot. 
And there you have our difference : to be in hell is to 
drift : to be in heaven is to steer. 

THE DEVIL. On the rocks, most likely. 

DON JUAN. Pooh ! which ship goes oftenest on the rocks 
or to the bottom — the drifting ship or the ship with a pilot 
on board? 

THE DEVIL. Well, well, go your way, Sefior Don Juan, 
1 prefer to be my own master and not the tool of any 
blundering universal force. I know that beauty is good to 
look at ; that music is good to hear ; that love is good to 
feel ; and that they are all good to think about and talk 
about. I know that to be well exercised in these sensa- 
tions, emotions, and studies is to be a refined and culti- 
vated being. Whatever they may say of me in churches 
on earth, I know that it is universally admitted in good 
society that the Prince of Darkness is a gentleman ; and 
that is enough for me. As to your Life Force, which you 
think irresistible, it is the most resistible thing in the world 
for a person of any character. But if you are naturally 

Act III Man and Superman 135 

vulgar and credulous, as all reformers are, it will thrust 
you first into religion, where you will sprinkle water on 
babies to save their souls from me ; then it will drive you 
from religion into science, where you will snatch the babies 
from the water sprinkling and inoculate them with disease 
to save them from catching it accidentally; then you will 
take to politics, where you will become the catspaw of 
corrupt functionaries and the henchman of ambitious hum- 
bugs ; and the end will be despair and decrepitude, broken 
nerve and shattered hopes, vain regrets for that worst and 
silliest of wastes and sacrifices, the waste and sacrifice of 
the power of enjoyment : in a word, the punishment of the 
fool who pursues the better before he has secured the good. 

DON JUAN. But at least I shall not be bored. The service 
of the Life Force has that advantage, at all events. So fare 
you well, Senor Satan. 

THE DEVIL [^amiably^ Fare you well, Don Juan. I shall 
often think of our interesting chats about things in general. 
I wish you every happiness : Heaven, as I said before, suits 
some people. But if you should change your mind, do not 
forget that the gates are always open here to the repentant 
prodigal. If you feel at any time that warmth of heart, 
sincere unforced affection, innocent enjoyment, and warm, 
breathing, palpitating reality — 

DON JUAN. Why not say flesh and blood at once, though 
we have left those two greasy commonplaces behind us? 

THE DEVIL [angrily] You throw my friendly farewell back 
in my teeth, then, Don Juan? 

DON JUAN. By no means. But though there Is much to 
be learnt from a cynical devil, I really cannot stand a senti- 
mental one. Senor Commander : you know the way to the 
frontier of hell and heaven. Be good enough to direct me. 

THE STATUE. Oh, the frontier is only the difference be- 
tween two ways of looking at things. Any road will take 
you across it if you really want to get there. 

DON JUAN. Good. [Saluting Dona Ana'] Sefiora : your 

136 Man and Superman Act in 

ANA. But I am going with you. 

DON JUAN. 1 can find my own way to heaven, Ana ; but 
I cannot find yours [he vanishes']. 

ANA. How annoying ! 

THE STATUE [calling after him] Bon voyage, Juan! [He 
zvafts a final blast of his great rolling chords after him as a 
parting salute. A faint echo of the first ghostly melody comes 
back in acknowledgment]. Ah ! there he goes. [Puffing a long 
breath out through his lips] Whew ! How he does talk ! 
Theyll never stand it in heaven. 

THE DEVIL [gloomily] His going is a political defeat. I 
cannot keep these Life Worshippers : they all go. This is 
the greatest loss 1 have had since that Dutch painter went 
— a fellow who would paint a hag of 70 with as much en- 
joyment as a Venus of 20. 

THE STATUE. I remember : he came to heaven. Rem- 

THE DEVIL. Ay, Rembrandt. There is something un- 
natural about these fellows. Do not listen to their gospel, 
Senor Commander : it is dangerous. Beware of the pursuit 
of the Superhuman : it leads to an indiscriminate contempt 
for the Human. To a man, horses and dogs and cats are 
mere species, outside the moral world. Well, to the 
Superman, men and women are a mere species too, also 
outside the moral world. This Don Juan was kind to 
women and courteous to men as your daughter here was 
kind to her pet cats and dogs ; but such kindness is a 
denial of the exclusively human character of the soul. 

THE STATUE. And who the deuce is the Superman ? 

THE DEVIL. Oh, the latest fashion among the Life Force 
fanatics. Did you not meet in Heaven, among the new 
arrivals, that German Polish madman — what was his name ? 

THE STATUE. Ncvcr heard of him. 

THE DEVIL. Well, he came here first, before he recovered 
his wits. I had some hopes of him ; but he was a con- 
firmed Life Force worshipper. It was he who raked up the 

Act III Man and Superman 137 

Superman, who is as old as Prometheus ; and the 20th 
century will run after this newest of the old crazes when it 
gets tired of the world, the flesh, and your humble servant. 

THE STATUE. Superman is a good cry; and a good cry 
is half the battle. I should like to see this Nietzsche. 

THE DEVIL. Unfortunately he met Wagner here, and had 
a quarrel with him. 

THE STATUE. Quitc right, too. Mozart for me ! 

THE DEVIL. Oh, it was not about music. Wagner once 
drifted into Life Force worship, and invented a Superman 
called Siegfried. But he came to his senses afterwards. So 
when theymet here,Nietzschedenouncedhim asarenegadc ; 
and Wagner wrote a pamphlet to prove that Nietzsche was 
a Jew; and it ended in Nietzsche's going to heaven in a 
huff. And a good riddance too. And now, my friend, let us 
hasten to my palace and celebrate your arrival with a grand 
musical service. 

THE STATUE. With plcasurc : youre most kind. 

THE DEVIL. This Way, Commander. We go down the 
old trap \ke places himself on the grave trap]. 

THE STATUE. Good. {Reflectively] All the same, the 
Superman is a fine conception. There is something statu- 
esque about it. [//<? places himself on the grave trap beside 
The Devil. It begins to descend slowly. Red glow from the 
abyss]. Ah, this reminds me of old times. 

THE DEVIL. And me also. 

ANA. Stop! [The trap stops]. 

THE DEVIL. You, Scflora, cannot come this way. You 
will have an apotheosis. But you will be at the palace be- 
fore us. 

ANA. That is not what I stopped you for. Tell me : 
where can I find the Superman ? 

THE DEVIL. He is not yet created, Sefiora. 

THE STATUE. And never will be, probably. Let us pro- 
ceed : the red fire will make me sneeze. [They descend]. 

ANA. Not yet created ! Then my work is not yet done. 
[Crossing herself devoutly] I believe in the Life to Come. 

138 Man and Superman Act III 

[Crying to the universe'] A father — a father for the Super- 
man ! 

She vanishes into the void; and again there is nothing: all 
existence seems suspended infinitely. Then, vaguely, there is a 
live human voice crying somewhere. One sees, with a shock, a 
mountain peak shewing faintly against a lighter background. 
The sky has returned from afar; and we suddenly remember 
where we were. The cry becomes distinct and urgent : it says 
Automobile, Automobile. The complete reality comes back 
with a rush: in a moment it is full morning in the Sierra; and 
the brigands are scrambling to their feet and making for the 
road as the goatherd runs down from the hill, warning them of 
the approach of another motor. Tanner and Mendoza rise 
amazedly and stare at one another with scattered wits. Straker 
sits up to yawn fir a moment befiore he gets on his fieet, making 
it a point ofi honor not to shew any undue interest in the excite- 
ment of the bandits. Mendoza gives a quick look to see that his 
followers are attending to the alarm ; then exchanges a private 
word with Tanner. 

MENDOZA. Did you dream ? 

TANNER. Damnably. Did you ? 

MENDOZA. Yes. I forget what. You were in it. 

TANNER. So were you. Amazing ! 

MENDOZA. I warned you. [A shot is heard firom the road]. 
Dolts! they will play with that gun. [The brigands 
come running back scared]. Who fired that shot ? [to Duval'\ 
was it you ? 

DUVAL [breathless] I have not shoot. Dey shoot first. 

ANARCHIST. I told you to begin by abolishing the State, 
Now we are all lost. 

THE ROWDY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT [stampeding across the amphi- 
theatre] Run, everybody. 

MENDOZA [collaring him; throwing him on his back; and 
drawing a knifie] I stab the man who stirs. [He blocks the 
way. The stampede is checked]. What has happened? 


THE ANARCHIST. Three men — 

Act III Man and Superman 139 

DUVAL. Deux ferames — 

MENDozA. Three men and two women ! Why have you 
not brought them here ? Are you afraid of them ? 

THE ROWDY ONE [getting Up] Thyve a hescort. 0\v, dc-ooh 
luts ook it, Mendowza. 

THE SULKY ONE. Two armorcd cars full o soldiers at the 
ed o the valley. 

ANARCHIST. Thc shot was fired in the air. It was a 

Straker whistles his favorite air^ which falls on the ears 
of the brigands like a funeral march. 

TANNER. It is not an escort, but an expedition to cap- 
ture you. We were advised to wait for it ; but I was in a 

THE ROWDY ONE [/» an agony of apprehension] And Ow 
my good Lord, ere we are, wytin for em! Luts tike to 
thc mahntns. 

MENDOZA. Idiot, what do you know about the moun- 
tains? Are you a Spaniard? You would be given up by 
the first shepherd you met. Besides, we are already within 
range of their rifles. 


MENDOZA. Silence. Leave this to me. [To Tanner^ 
Comrade : you will not betray us. 

STRAKER, Oo are you callin comrade? 

MENDOZA. Last night the advantage was with me. The 
robber of the poor was at the mercy of the robber of thc 
rich. You offered your hand : I took it. 

TANNER. I bring no charge against you, comrade. We 
have spent a pleasant evening with you : that is all. 

STRAKER. 1 gev my and to nobody, see? 

MENDOZA [turning on him impressively] Young man, if I 
am tried, I shall plead guilty, and explain what drove me 
from England, home and duty. Do you wish to have the 
respectable name of Straker dragged through the mud of a 
Spanish criminal court? The police will search me. They 
will find Louisa's portrait. It will be published in thc 

140 Man and Superman Act III 

illustrated papers. You blench. It will be your doing, 

STRAKER {with baffled rage] I dont care about the court. 
It's avin our name mixed up with yours that I object to, 
you blackmailin swine, you. 

MENDOZA. Language unworthy of Louisa's brother! But 
no matter : you are muzzled : that is enough for us. [He 
turns to face his own men^ who back uneasily across the amphi- 
t/jeatre towards the cave to take refuge be/nnd him, as afresh 
party, muffled for motoring, comes from the road in riotous 
spirits. Ann, who makes straight for Tanner, comes first ; then 
Violet, helped over the rough ground by Hector holding her 
right hand and Rams den her left. Mendoza goes to his presi- 
dential block and seats himself calmly with his rank and file 
grouped behind him, and his Staff, consisting of Duval and the 
Anarchist on his right and the two Social-Democrats on his 
left, supporting him on either side. 

ANN. It's Jack ! 

TANNER. Caught ! 

HECTOR. Why, certainly it is. I said it was you, Tanner. 
Weve just been stopped by a puncture : the road is full of 

VIOLET. What are you doing here with all these men? 

ANN. Why did you leave us without a word of warning? 

HECTOR. I wawnt that bunch of roses, Miss Whitefield. 
\To Tanner] When we found you were gone. Miss White- 
field bet me a bunch of roses my car would not overtake 
yours before you reached Monte Carlo. 

TANNER. But this is not the road to Monte Carlo. 

HECTOR. No matter. Miss Whitefield tracked you at 
every stopping place : she is a regular Sherlock Holmes. 

TANNER. The Life Force ! I am lost. 

ocTAVius [bounding gaily down from the road into the 
amphitheatre, and coming between Tanner and Straker] I am 
so glad you are safe, old chap. We were afraid you had 
been captured by brigands. 

RAMSDEN [who has been staring at Mendoza] I seem to 

Act III Man and Superman 141 

remember the face of your friend here. [Mendoza rises 
politely and advances with a smile betwceii Arm and Ramsden\ 

HECTOR. Why, so do I. 

ocTAVius. I know you perfectly well, sir; but 1 cant 
think where I have met you. 

MENDOZA \to Violet'\ Do you remember me, madam? 

VIOLET. Oh, quite well ; but I am so stupid about names. 

MENDOZA. It was at the Savoy Hotel. \To Hector} You, 
sir, used to come with this lady [Fiolet'\ to lunch. [To 
Octavius] You, sir, often brought this lady [Jnn] and her 
mother to dinner on your way to the Lyceum Theatre. 
[To Ramsden] You, sir, used to come to supper, with 
[dropping his voice to a confidential but perfectly audible 
whisper'] several different ladies. 

RAMSDEN [angrily] Well, what is that to you, pray? 

OCTAVIUS. Why, Violet, I thought you hardly knew one 
another before this trip, you and Malone ! 

VIOLET [vexed] I suppose this person was the manager. 

MENDOZA. The waiter, madam. I have a grateful recol- 
lection of you all. I gathered from the bountiful way in 
which you treated me that you all enjoyed your visits very 

VIOLET. What impertinence ! [She turns her back on him, 
and goes up the hill with Hector]. 

RAMSDEN. That will do, my friend. You do not expect 
these ladies to treat you as an acquaintance, I suppose, 
because you have waited on them at table. 

MENDOZA. Pardon me : it was you who claimed my 
acquaintance. The ladies followed your example. How- 
ever, this display of the unfortunate manners of your class 
closes the incident. For the future, you will please address 
me with the respect due to a stranger and fellow traveller. 
[He turns haughtily away and resumes his presidential 

TANNER. There ! I have found one man on my journey 
capable of reasonable conversation ; and you all instinct- 
ively insult him. Even the New Man is as bad as any 

142 Man and Superman Act III 

of you. Enry : you have behaved just like a miserable 

STRAKER. Gentleman ! Not me. 

RAMSDEN. Really, Tanner, this tone — 

ANN. Dont mind him, Granny : you ought to know 
him by this time [s/:e takes his arm and coaxes him away to 
the hill to join Violet and Hector. Octavius follows her, dog- 

VIOLET [calling from the hill] Here are the soldiers. 
They are getting out of their motors. 

DUVAL [panic stricken] Oh, nom de Dieu ! 

THE ANARCHIST. Fools : the State is about to crush you 
because you spared it at the prompting of the political 
hangers-on of the bourgeoisie. 

THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT [argumentative to the last] 
On the contrary, only by capturing the State machine — 

THE ANARCHIST. It is going to Capture you. 

THE ROWDY SOCIAL- DEMOCRAT [his anguish culminating] 
Ow, chack it. Wot are we ere for? Wot are we wytin for.? 

MENDOZA [between his teeth] Go on. Talk politics, you 
idiots : nothing sounds more respectable. Keep it up, I 
tell you. 

The soldiers line the road, commanding the amphitheatre 
with their rifles. The brigands, struggling with an over- 
whelming impulse to hide behind one another, look as uncon- 
cerned as they can. Mendoza rises superbly, with undaunted 
front. The officer in command steps down from the road into 
the amphitheatre ; looks hard at the brigands ; and then inquir- 
ingly at Tanner. 

THE OFFICER. Who are these men, Senor Ingles ? 

TANNER. My escort. 

Mendoza, with a Mephistophelean smile, bows profoundly. 
An irrepressible grin runs from face to face among the brigands. 
They touch their hats, except the Anarchist, who defies the 
State with folded arms. 


The garden of a villa in Granada, Whoever wishes to 
know what it is like must go to Granada and see. One may 
prosaically specify a group of hills dotted with villas, the Al- 
hambra on the top of one of the hills, and a considerable town 
in the valley, approached by dusty white roads in which the 
children, no matter what they are doing or thinking about, 
automatically whine for halfpence and reach out little clutching 
brown palms for them ; but there is nothing in this description 
except the Alhambra, the begging, and the color of the roads, 
that does not fit Surrey as well as Spain. The difference is 
that the Surrey hills are comparatively small and ugly, a?id 
should properly be called the Surrey Protuberances ; but these 
Spanish hills are of mountain stock: the amenity which conceals 
their size does not compromise their dignity. 

This particular garden is on a hill opposite the Alhambra; 
and the villa is as expensive and pretentious as a villa must be 
if it is to be let furnished by the week to opulent American and 
English visitors. If we stand on the lawn at the foot of the 
garden and look uphill, our horizon is the stone balustrade of a 
flagged platform on the edge of infinite space at the top of the 
hill. Between us and this platform is a flower garden with a 
circular basin and fountain in the centre, surrounded by geo- 
metrical flower beds, gravel paths, and clipped yew trees in the 
genteelest order. The garden is higher than our lawn; so we 
reach it by a few steps in the middle of its embankment. The 
platform is higher again than the garden, from which we mount a 
couple more steps to look over the balustrade at a flne view of 

144 Man and Superman Act IV 

the town up the valley and of the hills that stretch away beyond 
it to where, in the remotest distance, they become mountains. 
On our left is the villa, accessible by steps from the left hand 
corner of the garden. Returning from the platform through the 
garden and down again to the lawn {a movement which leaves 
the villa behind us on our right) we find evidence of literary 
interests on the part of the tenants in the fact that there is no 
tennis net nor set of croquet hoops, but, on our left, a little 
iron garden table with books on it, mostly yellow-backed, and 
a chair beside it, A chair on the right has also a couple of open 
books upon it. There are no newspapers, a circumstance which, 
with the absence of games, might lead an intelligent spectator 
to the most far reaching conclusions as to the sort of people who 
live in the villa. Such speculations are checked, however, on 
this delightfully fine afternoon, by the appearance at a little 
gate in a paling on our left, of Henry Straker in his pro- 
fessional costu?ne. He opens the gate for an elderly gentleman, 
and follows him on to the lawn. 

This elderly gentleman defies the Spanish sun in a black 
frock coat, tall silk hat, trousers in which narrow stripes of 
dark grey and lilac blend into a highly respectable color, and a 
black necktie tied into a bow over spotless linen. Probably 
therefore a man whose social position needs constant and scrupu- 
lous affirmation without regard to climate: one who would 
dress thus for the middle of the Sahara or the top of Mont 
Blanc. And since he has not the stamp of the class which 
accepts as its life-mission the advertizing and maintenance of 
first rate tailoring and millinery, he looks vulgar in his finery, 
though in a working dress of any kind he would look dignified 
enough. He is a bullet cheeked man with a red complexion, 
stubbly hair, smallish eyes, a hard mouth that folds down at 
the corners, and a dogged chin. The looseness of skin that 
comes with age has attacked his throat and the laps of his 
cheeks ; but he is still hara as an apple above the mouth; so 
that the upper half of his face looks younger than the lower. 
He has the self-confidence of one who has made money, and some- 
thing of the truculence of one who has made it in a brutalizing 

Act IV Man and Superman 145 

struggle^ his civility having under it a perceptible menace 
that he has other methods in reserve if necessary. Withal, a 
man to be rather pitied when he is not to be feared; for there 
is soine thing pathetic about him at times, as if the huge commer- 
cial machine which has worked him into his frcck coat had 
allowed him very little of his own way and left his affections 
hungry and baffled. At the first word that falls from him it is 
clear that he is an Irishman whose native intonation has clung 
to him through many changes of place and rank. One can only 
guess that the original material of his speech was perhaps the 
surly Kerry brogue; but the degradation of speech that occurs 
in London, Glasgow, Dublin and big cities ge?ierally has been 
at work on it so long that nobody but an arrant cockney would 
dream of calling it a brogue now ; for its music is almost gone, 
though its surliness is still perceptible. Straker, being a very 
obvious cockney, inspires him with implacable contempt, as a 
stupid Englishman who cannot even speak his own language 
properly. Straker, on the other hand, regards the old gentle- 
man^s accent as a joke thoughtfully provided by Providence 
expressly for the amusement of the British race, and treats 
him normally with the indulgence due to an inferior and un- 
lucky species, but occasionally with indignant alarm when the 
old gentleman shews signs of intending his Irish nonsense to be 
taken seriously. 

STRAKER. rU go tcU the young lady. She said youd 
prefer to stay here [he turns to go up through the garden to 
the villa], 

THE IRISHMAN [who has been looking round him with lively 
curiosity] The young lady? That's Miss Violet, eh? 

STRAKER [stopping on the steps with sudden suspicion] Well, 
you know, dont you ? 


STRAKER [his temper rising] Well, do you or dont you ? 
THE IRISHMAN. What busincss is that of yours? 
Straker, now highly indignant, comes back from the steps 
and confronts the visitor. 

146 Man and Superman Act IV 

STRAKER. I'll tell you what business it is of mine. Miss 
Robinson — 

THE IRISHMAN [interruptiftg] Oh, her name is Robinson, 
is it? Thank you. 

STRAKER. Why, you dont know even her name ? 

THE IRISHMAN. Ycs I do, now that youve told me. 

STRAKER [after a moment of stupefaction at the old man's 
readiness in repartee'] Look here : what do you mean by 
gittin into my car and lettin me bring you here if youre 
not the person I took that note to ? 

THE iRisHxMAN. Who else did you take it to, pray ? 

STRAKER. I took it to Mr Ector Malone, at Miss Robin- 
son's request, see ? Miss Robinson is not my principal : I 
took it to oblige her. I know Mr Malone j and he aint you, 
not by a long chalk. At the hotel they told me that your 
name is Ector Malone — 

MALONE. /jTector Malone. 

STRAKER [with calm superiority] Hector in your own 
country : thats what comes o livin in provincial places 
like Ireland and America. Over here youre Ector : if you 
avnt noticed it before you soon will. 

The growing strain of the conversation is here relieved hy 
Violet^ who has sallied from the villa and through the garden 
to the steps, which she now descends, coming very opportunely 
betiveen Malone and Straker. 

VIOLET [to Straker] Did you take my message ? 

STRAKER. Yes, miss. I took it to the hotel and sent it 
up, expecting to see young Mr Malone. Then out walks 
this gent, and says it's all right and he'll come with me. 
So as the hotel people said he was Mr Ector Malone, I 
fetched him. And now he goes back on what he said. Bul 
if he isnt the gentleman you meant, say the word : it's easy 
enough to fetch him back again. 

MALONE. I should cstccm it a great favor if I might 
have a short conversation with you, madam. I am Hector's 
father, as this bright Britisher would have guessed in the 
course of another hour or so. 

Act IV ' Man and Superman 147 

STRAKER [coo//y dejiant'] No, not in another year or so. 
When wcve ad you as long to polish up as weve ad im, 
perhaps youll begin to look a little bit up to is mark. At 
present you fall a long way short. Youve got too many 
aitches, for one thing. [To Violet^ amiablyl All right, Miss : 
you want to talk to him : I shant intrude. [He nods affably 
to Malone and goes out through the little gate in the paling]. 

VIOLET [very civilly\ I am so sorry, Mr Malone, if that 
man has been rude to you. But what can we do.? He is 
our chauffeur. 

MALONE. Your hwat ? 

VIOLET. The driver of our automobile. He can drive a 
motor car at seventy miles an hour, and mend it when it 
breaks down. We are dependent on our motor cars ; and 
our motor cars are dependent on him ; so of course we arc 
dependent on him. 

MALONE. Ive noticed, madam, that every thousand dollars 
an Englishman gets seems to add one to the number of 
people hes dependent on. However, you neednt apologize 
for your man : I made him talk on purpose. By doing so 
I learnt that youre stayin here in Grannida with a party 
of English, including my son Hector. 

VIOLET [conversationally'] Yes. We intended to go to 
Nice ; but we had to follow a rather eccentric member of 
our party who started first and came here. Wont you sit 
down? [Bhe clears the nearest chair of the two books on it\ 

MALONE [impressed by this attention] Thank you. [He sits 
dozvn, examining her curiously as she goes to the iron table to put 
down the books. When she turns to him again, he says] Miss 
Robinson, I believe? 

VIOLET [sitting down] Yes. 

MALONE [taking a letter from his pocket] Your note to 
Hector runs as follows [Fiolet is unable to repress a start. 
He pauses quietly to take out and put on his spectacles, which 
have gold rims] : " Dearest : they have all gone to the 
Alhambra for the afternoon. I have shammed headache 
and have the garden all to myself. Jump into Jack's motor : 

1 48 Man and Superman Act IV 

Straker will rattle you here In a jiffy. Quick, quick, quick. 
Your loving Violet." [He looks at her; but by this time she 
has recovered herself^ and meets his spectacles with perfect com- 
posure. He continues slowly^ Now I dont know on hwat 
terms young people associate in English society ; but in 
America that note would be considered to imply a very 
considerable degree of affectionate intimacy between the 

VIOLET. Yes : I know your son very well, Mr Malone. 
Have you any objection? 

MALONE [somezvhat taken aback'] No, no objection exactly. 
Provided it is understood that my son is altogether de- 
pendent on me, and that I have to be consulted in any 
important step he may propose to take. 

VIOLET. I am sure you would not be unreasonable with 
him, Mr Malone. 

MALONE. I hope not. Miss Robinson ; but at your age 
you might think many things unreasonable that dont seem 
so to me. 

VIOLET [with a little shrug] Oh well, I suppose theres no 
use our playing at cross purposes, Mr Malone. Hector 
wants to marry me. 

MALONE. I inferred from your note that he might. Well, 
Miss Robinson, he is his own master; but if he marries 
you he shall not have a rap from me. [He takes off his 
spectacles and pockets them with the note]. 

VIOLET [with some severity] That is not very compli- 
mentary to me, Mr Malone. 

MALONE. I say nothing against you. Miss Robinson : I 
daresay you are an amiable and excellent young lady. But 
I have other views for Hector. 

VIOLET. Hector may not have other views for himself, 
Mr Malone. 

MALONE. Possibly not. Then he does without me : thats 
all. I daresay you are prepared for that. When a young 
lady writes to a young man to come to her quick, quick, 
quick, money seems nothing and love seems everything. 

Act IV Man and Superman 149 

VIOLET [sharplyl I beg your pardon, Mr Malone : I do 
not think anything so foolish. Hector must have money. 

MALONE [staggered'\ Oh, very well, very well. No doubt 
he can work for it. 

VIOLET. What is the use of having money if you have 
to work for it? \_She rises impatient/y'\. It's all nonsense, 
Mr Malone: you must enable your son to keep up his 
position. It is his right. 

MALONE \_grimly'\ I should not advise you to marry him 
on the strength of that right, Miss Robinson. 

Violet^ who has almost lost her temper^ controls herself with 
an effort; unclenches her fingers ; and resumes her seat with 
studied tranquillity and reasonableness. 

VIOLET. What objection have you to me, pray? My 
social position is as good as Hector's, to say the least. He 
admits it. 

MALONE \shrewdly'\ You tell him so from time to time, 
eh ? Hector's social position in England, Miss Robinson, 
is just what I choose to buy for him. I have made him a 
fair offer. Let him pick out the most historic house, castle 
or abbey that England contains. The day that he tells me 
he wants it for a wife worthy of its traditions, I buy it 
for him, and give him the means of keeping it up. 

VIOLET. What do you mean by a wife worthy of its 
traditions? Cannot any well bred woman keep such a 
house for him? 

MALONE. No : she must be born to it. 

VIOLET. Hector was not born to it, was he ? 

MALONE. His granmother was a barefooted Irish girl 
that nursed me by a turf fire. Let him marry another such, 
and I will not stint her marriage portion. Let him raise 
himself socially with my money or raise somebody else : 
so long as there is a social profit somewhere, I'll regard 
my expenditure as justified. But there must be a profit for 
someone. A marriage with you would leave things just 
where they are. 

VIOLET. Many of my relations would object very much 

1 50 Man and Superman Act IV 

to my marrying the grandson of a common woman, Mr 
Malone. That may be prejudice; but so is your desire to 
have him marry a title prejudice. 

MALONE [rising, and approaching her with a scrutiny in 
which there is a good deal of reluctant respect'] You seem a 
pretty straightforward downright sort of a young woman. 

VIOLET. I do not see why I should be made miserably 
poor because I cannot make profits for you. Why do you 
want to make Hector unhappy ? 

MALONE. He will get over it all right enough. Men 
thrive better on disappointments in love than on dis- 
appointments in money. I daresay you think that sordid ; 
but I know what I'm talking about. Me father died of 
starvation in Ireland in the black 47. Maybe youve heard 
of it. 

VIOLET. The Famine? 

MALONE [with smouldering passion"] No, the starvation. 
When a country is full o food, and exporting it, there can 
be no famine. Me father was starved dead ; and I was 
starved out to America in me mother's arms. English rule 
drove me and mine out of Ireland. Well, you can keep 
Ireland. Me and me like are coming back to buy England ; 
and we'll buy the best of it. I want no middle class pro- 
perties and no middle class women for Hector. Thats 
straightforward, isnt it, like yourself? 

VIOLET [icily pitying his sentimentality] Really, Mr Malone, 
I am astonished to hear a man of your age and good sense 
talking in that romantic way. Do you suppose English 
noblemen will sell their places to you for the asking ? 

MALONE. I have the refusal of two of the oldest family 
mansions in England. One historic owner cant afford to 
keep all the rooms dusted : the other cant afford the death 
duties. What do you say now? 

VIOLET. Of course it is very scandalous ; but surely you 
know that the Government will sooner or later put a stop 
to all these Socialistic attacks on property. 

MALONE [grinning] D'y'think theyll be able to get that 

Act IV Man and Superman 151 

done before I buy the house — or rather the abbey ? Theyrc 
both abbeys. 

VIOLET [putting that aside rather impatiently'] Oh, well, 
let us talk sense, Mr Malone. You must feel that we 
havnt been talking sense so far. 

MALONE. I cant say I do. I mean all I say. 

VIOLET. Then you dont know Hector as I do. He is 
romantic and faddy — he gets it from you, I fancy — and he 
wants a certain sort of wife to take care of him. Not a 
faddy sort of person, you know. 

MALONE. Somebody like you, perhaps? 

VIOLET [quietly] Well, yes. But you cannot very well 
ask me to undertake this with absolutely no means of 
keeping up his position. 

MALONE [alarmed] Stop a bit, stop a bit. Where are we 
getting to? I'm not aware that I'm asking you to undertake 

VIOLET. Of course, Mr Malone, you can make it very 
difficult for me to speak to you if you choose to misunder- 
stand me. 

MALONE [half bewildered] I dont wish to take any unfair 
advantage ; but we seem to have got off the straight track 

Strakery with the air of a man who has been making haste, 
opens the little gate, and admits Hector, who, snorting with 
indignation, comes upon the lawn, and is making for his father 
when Violet, greatly dismayed, springs up and intercepts him. 
Straker does not wait; at least he does not remain visibly 
within earshot. 

VIOLET. Oh, how unlucky! Now please, Hector, say 
nothing. Go away until I have finished speaking to your 

HECTOR [inexorably") No, Violet : I mean to have this 
thing out, right away. [He puts her aside; passes her by; 
and faces his father, whose cheeks darken as his Irish blood 
begins to simmer]. Dad : youve not played this hand straight. 

MALONE. Hwat d'y'mean ? 

152 Man and Superman Act IV 

HECTOR. Youve opened a letter addressed to me. Youve 
impersonated me and stolen a march on this lady. Thats 

MALONE [threateningly'] Now you take care what youre 
saying, Hector. Take care, I tell you. 

HECTOR. I have taken care. I am taking care. Vm 
taking care of my honor and my position in English 

MALONE \^hotIy'\ Your position has been got by my money : 
do you know that ? 

HECTOR. Well, youve just spoiled it all by opening that 
letter. A letter from an English lady, not addressed to you 
— a cawnfidential letter ! a dullicate letter ! a private letter! 
opened by my father ! Thats a sort of thing a man cant 
struggle against in England. The sooner we go back to- 
gether the better. [He appeals mutely to the heavens to wit- 
ness the shame and anguish of two outcasts]. 

VIOLET [snubbing him with an instinctive dislike for scene 
making] Dont be unreasonable. Hector. It was quite natural 
of Mr Malone to open my letter: his name was on the 

MALONE. There ! Youve no common sense, Hector. I 
thank you. Miss Robinson. 

HECTOR. I thank you, too. It's very kind of you. My 
father knows no better. 

MALONE [furiously clenching his fists] Hector — 

HECTOR [with undaunted moral force] Oh, it's no use 
hectoring me. A private letter's a private letter, dad : you 
cant get over that. 

MALONE [raising his voice] I wont be talked back to by 
you, d'y'hear? 

VIOLET. Ssh! please, please. Here they all come. 

Father and son, checked, glare mutely at one another as 
Tanner comes in through the little gate with Ramsden, followed 
by Octavius and Jnn. 

VIOLET. Back already! 

TANNER. The Alhambra is not open this afternoon. 

Act IV Man and Superman 153 

VIOLET. What a sell ! 

Tanner passes on^ and presently finds himself between Hector 
and a strange elder ^ both apparently on the verge of personal 
combat. He looks from one to the other for an explanation. 
They sulkily avoid his eye^ and nurse their wrath in silence. 

RAMSDEN. Is it wisc foF you to bc out in the sunshine 
with such a headache, Violet? 

TANNER. Have you recovered too, Malone ? 

VIOLET. Oh, I forgot. We have not all met before. Mr 
Malone: wont you introduce your father? 

HECTOR [with Roman firm7iess'\ No I will not. He is no 
father of mine. 

MALONE \yery angry'\ You disown your dad before your 
English friends, do you ? 

VIOLET. Oh please dont make a scene. 

Ann and Octavius, lingering near the gate, exchange an 
astonished glance, and discreetly withdraw up the steps to the 
garden, where they can enjoy the disturbance without intrud- 
ing. On their way to the steps Ann sends a little grimace of 
mute sympathy to Violet, who is standing with her back to the 
little table, looking on in helpless annoyance as her husband 
soars to higher and higher moral eminences without the least re- 
gard to the old man's millions. 

HECTOR. I'm very sorry, Miss Rawbnsn ; but I'm con- 
tending for a principle. I am a son, and, I hope, a dutiful 
one; but before everything I'm a Mahn!!! And when 
dad treats my private letters as his own, and takes it on 
himself to say that I shant marry you if I am happy and 
fortunate enough to gain your consent, then I just snap 
my fingers and go my own way. 

TANNER. Marry Violet ! 

RAMSDEN. Arc you in your senses? 

TANNER. Do you forgct what we told you ? 

HECTOR [recklessly'\ I dont care what you told me. 

RAMSDEN [scandalized] Tut tut, sir! Monstrous! [he 
flings away tozvards the gate, his elbows quivering with in- 

154 Man and Superman Act iv 

TANNER. Another madman ! These men in love should 
be locked up. [He gives Hector up as hopeless^ and turns 
away towards the garden; but Malone, taking offence in a 
new direction, follows him and compels him, by the aggressive- 
ness of his tone, to stop^. 

MALONE. I dont understand this. Is Hector not good 
enough for this lady, pray? 

TANNER. My dear sir, the lady is married already. 
Hector knows it; and yet he persists in his infatuation. 
Take him home and lock him up. 

MALONE [bitterly] So this is the highborn social tone I 
have spoiled be me ignorant, uncultivated behavior ! Makin 
love to a married woman ! [He comes angrily between Hector 
and Violet, and almost bawls into Hector^ s left ear] Youve 
picked up that habit of the British aristocracy, have 

HECTOR. Thats all right. Dont you trouble yourself 
about that. I'll answer for the morality of what I'm doing. 

TANNER [coming forward to Hector* s right hand with flash- 
ing eyes] Well said, Malone ! You also see that mere marriage 
laws are not morality ! I agree with you ; but unfortunately 
Violet does not. 

MALONE. I take leave to doubt that, sir. [Turning on 
Violet] Let me tell you, Mrs Robinson, or whatever your 
right name is, you had no right to send that letter to my 
son when you were the wife of another man. 

HECTOR [outraged] This is the last straw. Dad : you have 
insulted my wife. 

MALONE. Your wife! 

TANNER. You the missing husband! Another moral 
impostor ! [He smites his brow, and collapses into Malone^s 

MALONE. Youve married without my consent ! 

RAMSDEN. You have deliberately humbugged us, sir ! 

HECTOR. Here : I have had just about enough of being 
badgered. Violet and I are married : thats the long and 
the short of it. Now what have you got to say — any of you ? 

Act IV Man and Superman 155 

MALONE. I know what Ive got to say. Shes married a 

HECTOR. No : shes married a Worker [his American pro- 
nunciation imparts an overwhelming intensity to this simple and 
unpopular word\ I start to earn my own living this very 

MALONE [sneering angrily'] Yes : youre very plucky now, 
because you got your remittance from me yesterday or this 
morning, I reckon. Waitl it's spent. You wont be so full 
of cheek then. 

HECTOR [producing a letter from his pocketbook] Here it is 
[thrusting it on his father]. Now you just take your remit- 
tance and yourself out of my life. I'm done with remit- 
tances ; and I'm done with you. I dont sell the privilege 
of insulting my wife for a thousand dollars. 

MALONE [deeply wounded and full of concern] Hector: you 
dont know what poverty is. 

HECTOR [fervidly] Well, I wawnt to know what it is. I 
wawnt'be a Mahn. Violet : you come along with me, to 
your own home : I'll see you through. 

ocTAVius [jumping down from the garden to the lawn and 
running to Hector's left hand] I hope youll shake hands with 
me before you go. Hector. I admire and respect you more 
than I can say. [He is affected almost to tears as they shake 

VIOLET [also almost in tears, but of vexation] Oh dont be 
an idiot, Tavy. Hector's about as fit to become a workman 
as you are. 

TANNER [rising from his chair on the other side of Hector] 
Never fear : theres no question of his becoming a navvy, 
Mrs Malone. [To Hector] Theres really no difficulty about 
capital to start with. Treat me as a friend : draw on me. 

ocTAVius [impulsively] Or on me. 

MALONE [with fierce jealousy] Who wants your durty 
money .^ Who should he draw on but his own father? 
[Tanner and Octavius recoil., Octavius rather hurt.. Tanner 
consoled by the solution of the money difficulty, Violet looks up 

1 56 Man and Superman Act IV 

hopefully']. Hector : dont be rash, my boy. I'm sorry for 
what I said : I never meant to insult Violet : I take it all 
back. Shes just the wife you want : there ! 

HECTOR [patting him on the shoulder] Well, thats all right, 
dad. Say no more : we're friends again. Only, I take no 
money from anybody. 

MALONE [pleading abjectly] Dont be hard on me. Hector. 
I'd rather you quarrelled and took the money than made 
friends and starved. You dont know what the world is : I 

HECTOR. No, no, NO. Thats fixed: thats not going to 
change. [He passes his fat/jer inexorably by, and goes to 
Violet]. Come, Mrs Malone : youve got to move to the 
hotel with me, and take your proper place before the world. 

VIOLET. But I must go in, dear, and tell Davis to pack. 
Wont you go on and make them give you a room overlook- 
ing the garden for me ? I'll join you in half an hour. 

HECTOR. Very well. YouU dine with us. Dad, wont you ? 

MALONE [eager to conciliate him] Yes, yes. 

HECTOR. See you all later. [He waves his hand to jinn, 
who has now been joined by Tanner, Octavius, and Rams den in 
the garden, and goes out through the little gate, leaving his 
father and Violet together on the lawn]. 

MALONE. Youll try to bring him to his senses, Violet : I 
know you will. 

VIOLET. I had no idea he could be so headstrong. If he 
goes on like that, what can I do? 

MALONE. Dont be discurridged : domestic pressure may 
be slow ; but it's sure. Youll wear him down. Promise me 
you will. 

VIOLET. I will do my best. Of course I think it's the 
greatest nonsense deliberately making us poor like that. 

MALONE. Of course it is. 

VIOLET [after a moments reflection] You had better give 
me the remittance. He will want it for his hotel bill. I'll 
see whether I can induce him to accept it. Not now, of 
course, but presently. 

Act IV Man and Superman 1 57 

MALONE [^ager/yj Yes, yes, yes : thats just the thing [^e 
hands her the thousand dollar bill^ and adds cunningly'] Y'undcr- 
stand that this is only a bachelor allowance. 

VIOLET [r(?«7/i!3'] Oh, quite. \_S he takes it]. Thank you. By 
the way, Mr Malone, those two houses you mentioned — 
the abbeys. 

MALONE. Yes ? 

VIOLET. Dont take one of them until Ive seen it. One 
never knows what may be wrong with these places. 

MALONE. I wont. I'll do nothing without consulting you, 
never fear. 

VIOLET \^politely^but without a ray of gratitude] Thanks: that 
will be much the best way. \^She goes calmly back to the villa^ 
escorted obsequiously by Malone to the upper end of the garden]. 

TANNER {drawing Ramsden's attention to Malone' s cringing 
attitude as he takes leave of Violet] And that poor devil is a 
billionaire ! one of the master spirits of the age ! Led in a 
string like a pug dog by the first girl who takes the trouble 
to despise him ! I wonder will it ever come to that with 
me. {He comes down to the lawn]. 

RAMSDEN {following him] The sooner the better for you. 

MALONE {slapping his hands as he returns through the garden] 
Thatll be a grand woman for Hector. I wouldnt exchange 
her for ten duchesses. {He descends to the lawn and comes 
between Tanner and Rams den], 

RAMSDEN {very civil to the billionaire] It's an unexpected 
pleasure to find you in this corner of the world, Mr Malone. 
Have you come to buy up the Alhambra ? 

MALONE. Well, I dont say I mightnt. I think I could do 
better with it than the Spanish goverment. But thats not 
what I came about. To tell you the truth, about a month 
ago I overheard a deal between two men over a bundle of 
shares. They differed about the price : they were young 
and greedy, and didnt know that if the shares were worth 
what was bid for them they must be worth what was asked, 
the margin being too small to be of any account, you see. 
To amuse meself, I cut in and bought the shares. Well, to 

158 Man and Superman Act iv 

this day I havnt found out what the business is. The office 
is in this town ; and the name is Mendoza, Limited. Now 
whether Mendoza's a mine, or a steamboat line, or a bank, 
or a patent article — 

TANNER. Hes a man. I know him : his principles are 
thoroughly commercial. Let us take you round the town 
in our motor, Mr Malone, and call on him on the way. 

MALONE. If youll be so kind, yes. And may I ask who — 

TANNER. Mr Roebuck Ramsden, a very old friend of 
your daughter-in-law. 

MALONE. Happy to meet you, Mr Ramsden. 

RAMSDEN. Thank you. Mr Tanner is also one of our circle. 

MALONE. Glad to know you also, Mr Tanner. 

TANNER. Thanks. [Malone and Ramsden go out very 
amicably through the little gate. Tanner calls to Octavius^ who 
is wandering in the garden with Ann'] Tavy ! \_Tavy comes 
to the steps. Tanner whispers loudly to him] Violet has married 
a financier of brigands. [Tanner hurries away to overtake 
Malone and Ramsden. Ann strolls to the steps with an idle 
impulse to torment Octavius]. 

ANN. Wont you go with them, Tavy ? 

ocTAVius [tears suddenly flushing his eyes] You cut me to 
the heart, Ann, by wanting me to go [he comes down on the 
lawn to hide his face from her, 5 he follows him caressingly]. 

ANN. Poor Ricky Ticky Tavy ! Poor heart ! 

OCTAVIUS. It belongs to you, Ann. Forgive me : I must 
speak of it. I love you. You know I love you. 

ANN. Whats the good, Tavy ? You know that my mother 
is determined that I shall marry Jack. 

OCTAVIUS [amazed] Jack ! 

ANN. ]t seems absurd, doesnt it? 

OCTAVIUS [with growing resentment] Do you mean to say 
that Jack has been playing with me all this time ? That he 
has been urging me not to marry you because he intends 
to marry you himself? 

ANN [alarmed] No no : you mustnt lead him to believe 
that I said that. I dont for a moment think that Jack knows 

Act IV Man and Superman 1 59 

his own mind. But it's clear from my father's will that he 
wished me to marry Jack. And my mother is set on it. 

ocTAVius. But you are not bound to sacrifice yourself 
always to the wishes of your parents. 

ANN. My father loved me. My mother loves me. Surely 
their wishes are a better guide than my own selfishness. 

OCTAVIUS. Oh, I know how unselfish you are, Ann. But 
believe me — though I know I am speaking in my own 
interest — there is another side to this question. Is it fair to 
Jack to marry him if you do not love him ? Is it fair to 
destroy my happiness as well as your own if you can bring 
yourself to love me ? 

ANN [looking at him with a faint impulse of pity] Tavy, my 
dear, you are a nice creature — a good boy. 

OCTAVIUS [humiliated] Is that all ? 

ANN [mischievously in spite of her pity] Thats a great deal, 
I assure you. You would always worship the ground I trod 
on, wouldnt you.? 

OCTAVIUS. I do. It sounds ridiculous ; but it's no exag- 
geration. I do ; and I always shall. 

ANN. Always is a long word, Tavy. You see, I shall have to 
live up always to your idea of my divinity ; and I dont think 
I could do that if we were married. But if I marry Jack, 
youll never be disillusioned — at least not until I grow too old. 

OCTAVIUS. I too shall grow old, Ann. And when I am 
eighty, one white hair of the woman I love will make mc 
tremble more than the thickest gold tress from the most 
beautiful young head. 

ANN [quite touched] Oh, thats poetry, Tavy, real poetry. 
It gives me that strange sudden sense of an echo from a 
former existence which always seems to me such a striking 
proof that we have immortal souls. 

OCTAVIUS. Do you believe that it is true ? 

ANN. Tavy: if it is to come true, you must lose me as 
well as love me. 

OCTAVIUS. Oh ! [he hastily sits down at the little table and 
covers his face with his hands]. 

i6o Man and Superman Act iv 

ANN [with conviction^ Tavy : I would nt for worlds 
destroy your illusions. I can neither take you nor let you 
go. I can see exactly what will suit you. You must be a 
sentimental old bachelor for my sake. 

ocTAVius [desperately'] Ann : I'll kill myself. 

ANN. Oh no you wont : that wouldnt be kind. You 
wont have a bad time. You will be very nice to women ; 
and you will go a good deal to the opera. A broken heart 
is a very pleasant complaint for a man in London if he 
has a comfortable income. 

OCTAVIUS [considerably cooled, but believing that he is only 
recovering his self-control] I know you mean to be kind, 
Ann. Jack has persuaded you that cynicism is a good 
tonic for me. [He rises with quiet dignity]. 

ANN [studying him slyly] You see, I'm disillusionizing 
you already. Thats what I dread. 

OCTAVIUS. You do not dread disillusionizing Jack. 

ANN [her face lighting up with mischievous ecstasy — whis- 
pering] I cant : he has no illusions about me. I shall 
surprise Jack the other way. Getting over an unfavorable 
impression is ever so much easier than living up to an 
ideal. Oh, I shall enrapture Jack sometimes ! 

OCTAVIUS [resuming the calm phase of despair^ and beginning 
to enjoy his broken heart and delicate attitude without knowing 
it] I dont doubt that. You will enrapture him always. 
And he — the fool ! — thinks you would make him wretched. 

ANN. Yes : thats the difficulty, so far. 

OCTAVIUS [heroically] Shall / tell him that you love 

ANN [quickly] Oh no : he'd run away again. 

OCTAVIUS [shocked] Ann : would you marry an unwilling 

ANN. What a queer creature you are, Tavy ! Theres 
no such thing as a willing man when you really go for 
him. [She laughs naughtily], I'm shocking you, I suppose. 
But you know you are really getting a sort of satisfaction 
already in being out of danger yourself. 

Act IV Man and Superman 1 6 1 

ocTAVius \startled'\ Satisfaction ! [Reproachfully'] You say 
that to me ! 

ANN. Well, if it were really agony, would you ask for 
more of it ? 

OCTAVIUS. Have I asked for more of it? 

ANN. You have offered to tell Jack that I love him. 
Thats self-sacrifice, I suppose ; but there must be some 
satisfaction in it. Perhaps its because youre a poet. You 
are like the bird that presses its breast against the sharp 
thorn to make itself sing. 

OCTAVIUS. It's quite simple. I love you ; and I want 
you to be happy. You dont love me ; so I cant make you 
happy myself; but I can help another man to do it. 

ANN. Yes : it seems quite simple. But I doubt if we 
ever know why we do things. The only really simple 
thing is to go straight for what you want and grab it. I 
suppose I dont love you, Tavy ; but sometimes I feel as if 
I should like to make a man of you somehow. You are 
very foolish about women. 

OCTAVIUS [almost coldly'] I am content to be what I am 
in that respect. 

ANN. Then you must keep away from them, and only 
dream about them. I wouldnt marry you for worlds, Tavy. 

OCTAVIUS. I have no hope, Ann : I accept my ill luck. 
But I dont think you quite know how much it hurts. 

ANN. You are so softhearted. It's queer that you should 
be so different from Violet. Violets as hard as nails. 

OCTAVIUS. Oh no. I am sure Violet is thoroughly 
womanly at heart. 

ANN [with some impatience] Why do you say that ? Is it 
unwomanly to be thoughtful and businesslike and sensible? 
Do you want Violet to be an idiot — or something worse, 
like me? 

OCTAVIUS. Something worse — like you ! What do you 
mean, Ann? 

ANN. Oh well, I dont mean that, of course. But I have 
a great respect for Violet. She gets her own way always. 


1 62 Man and Superman Act IV 

ocTAVius [sig/:^ing] So do you. 

ANN. Yes ; but somehow she gets it without coaxing — 
without having to make people sentimental about her. 

OCTAVIUS [zvit6 brotherly callousness^ Nobody could get 
very sentimental about Violet, I think, pretty as she is. 

ANN. Oh yes they could, if she made them. 

OCTAVIUS. But surely no really nice woman would 
deliberately practise on men's instincts in that way. 

ANN [throwing up her hands'] Oh Tavy, Tavy, Ricky 
Ticky Tavy, heaven help the woman who marries you ! 

OCTAVIUS [his passion reviving at the name] Oh why, 
why, why do you say that? Dont torment me. I dont 

ANN. Suppose she were to tell fibs, and lay snares for 

OCTAVIUS. Do you think I could marry such a woman 
— I, who have known and loved you ? 

ANN. Hm ! Well, at all events, she wouldnt let you if 
she were wise. So thats settled. And now I cant talk any 
more. Say you forgive me, and that the subject is closed. 

OCTAVIUS. I have nothing to forgive; and the subject is 
closed. And if the wound is open, at least you shall never 
see it bleed. 

ANN. Poetic to the last, Tavy. Goodbye, dear. [She 
pats his cheek; has an impulse to kiss him and then another 
impulse of distaste which prevents her; Jinall^ runs away 
through the garden and into the villa]. 

Octavius again takes refuge at the table, bowing his head 
on his arms and sobbing softly. Mrs Whitefeld, who has been 
pottering round the Granada shops, and has a net full of little 
parcels in her hand, comes in through the gate and sees him. 

MRS WHITE FIELD [running to him and lifting his head] 
Whats the matter, Tavy? Are you ill? 

OCTAVIUS. No, nothing, nothing. 

MRS WHITEFIELD [stUl holding his head, anxiously] But 
youre crying. Is it about Violet's marriage ? 

OCTAVIUS. No, no. Who told you about Violet? 

Act IV Man and Superman 163 

MRS WHITEFIELD [restoring the head to its otvner] I met 
Roebuck and that awful old Irishman. Are you sure youre 
not ill? What's the matter? 

ocTAVi\Js[i7j~ectio?iate/y] It's nothing — only a man's broken 
heart. Doesnt that sound ridiculous? 

MRS WHITEFIELD, But what is it all about? Has Ann 
been doing anything to you ? 

ocTAVius. It's not Ann's fault. And dont think for a 
moment that I blame you. 

MRS WHITEFIELD [st^rt/ed'] For what? 

OCTAVIUS [pressing her hand consolingly\ For nothing. I 
said I didnt blame you. 

MRS WHITEFIELD. But I havnt done anything. Whats the 

OCTAVIUS [smiling sadlf\ Cant you guess ? I daresay you 
are right to prefer Jack to me as a husband for Ann ; but 
I love Ann ; and it hurts rather. [He rises and moves azvay 
from her towards the middle of the lawn"], 

MRS WHITEFIELD [following him hastily^ Docs Ann say 
that I want her to marry Jack ? 

oci^Avius. Yes : she has told me. 

MRS WHITEFIELD [thoughtfully'] Then I'm very sorry for 
you, Tavy. It's only her way of saying she wants to 
marry Jack. Little she cares what / say or what / want. 

OCTAVIUS. But she would not say it unless she believed 
it. Surely you dont suspect Ann of — of deceit ! ! 

MRS WHITEFIELD. Well, ncvcr mind, Tavy. I dont know 
which is best for a young man : to know too little, like 
you, or too much, like Jack, 

Tanner returns, 

TANNER. Well, Ivc disposcd of old Malone. Ive in- 
troduced him to Mendoza, Limited ; and left the two 
brigands together to talk it out. Hullo, Tavy ! anything 
wrong ? 

OCTAVIUS. I must go wash my facr, I see. [To Mrs 
Whitefield\ Tell him what you wish. [To Tanner^ You 
may take it from me, Jack, that Ann approves of it. 

1 64 Man and Superman Act IV 

TANNER \_puzzled by his manner'] Approves of what ? 

ocTAVius. Of what Mrs Whitefield wishes. \_He goes his 
way with sad dignity to the villa], 

TANNER [to Mrs Whitefield] This is very mysterious. 
What is it you wish? It shall be done, whatever it is. 

MRS WHITEFIELD \with snivelling gratitude] Thank you. 
Jack. \_She sits down. Tanner brings the other chair from the 
table and sits close to her with his elbows on his knees, giving 
her his whole attention], I dont know why it is that other 
people's children are so nice to me, and that my own 
have so little consideration for me. It's no wonder I dont 
seem able to care for Ann and Rhoda as I do for you and 
Tavy and Violet. It's a very queer world. It used to be 
so straightforward and simple ; and now nobody seems to 
think and feel as they ought. Nothing has been right since 
that speech that Professor Tyndall made at Belfast. 

TANNER. Yes : life is more complicated than we used 
to think. But what am I to do for you ? 

MRS WHITEFIELD. Thats just what I want to tell you. 
Of course youU marry Ann whether I like it or not — 

TANNER [starting] It seems to me that I shall presently 
be married to Ann whether I like it myself or not. 

MRS WHITEFIELD [peacefully] Oh, very likely you will : 
you know what she is when she has set her mind on any- 
thing. But dont put it on me : thats all I ask. Tavy has 
just let out that shes been saying that I am making her 
marry you ; and the poor boy is breaking his heart about 
it ; for he is in love with her himself, though what he sees 
in her so wonderful, goodness knows : / dont. It's no use 
telling Tavy that Ann puts things into people's heads by 
telling them that I want them when the thought of them 
never crossed my mind. It only sets Tavy against me. 
But you know better than that. So if you marry her, dont 
put the blame on me. 

TANNER [emphatically] I havnt the slightest intention of 
marrying her. 

MRS WHITEFIELD [j^/y] She'd suit you better than Tavy. 

Act IV Man and Superman 165 

She'd meet her match in you, Jack. I'd like to see her 
meet her match, 

TANNER. No man is a match for a woman, except with 
a poker and a pair of hobnailed boots. Not always even 
then. Anyhow, / cant take the poker to her. I should be 
a mere slave. 

MRS WHiTEFiELD. No : shc's afraid of you. At all events, 
you would tell her the truth about herself. She wouldnt 
be able to slip out of it as she does with me. 

TANNER. Everybody would call me a brute if I told Ann 
the truth about herself in terms of her own moral code. 
To begin with, Ann says things that are not strictly true. 

MRS WHITEFIELD. I'm glad somebody sees she is not an 

TANNER. In short — to put it as a husband would put 
it when exasperated to the point of speaking out — she is 
a liar. And since she has plunged Tavy head over ears in 
love with her without any intention of marrying him, she is 
a coquette, according to the standard definition of a coquette 
as a woman who rouses passions she has no intention of 
gratifying. And as she has now reduced you to the point 
of being willing to sacrifice me at the altar for the mere 
satisfaction of getting me to call her a liar to her face, 
I may conclude that she is a bully as well. She cant 
bully men as she bullies women ; so she habitually and 
unscrupulously uses her personal fascination to make men 
give her whatever she wants. That makes her almost some- 
thing for which I know no polite name. 

MRS WHITEFIELD [in mild expostulation^ Well, you cant 
expect perfection, Jack. 

TANNER. I dont. But what annoys me is that Ann docs. 
I know perfectly well that all this about her being a liar 
and a bully and a coquette and so forth is a trumped-up 
moral indictment which might be brought against anybody. 
We all lie; we all bully as much as we dare; we all bid 
for admiration without the least intention of earning it; 
we all get as much rent as we can out of our powers of 

1 66 Man and Superman Act iv 

fascination. If Ann would admit this I shouldnt quarrel 
with her. But she wont. If she has children she'll take 
advantage of their telling lies to amuse herself by whack- 
ing them. If another woman makes eyes at me, she'll refuse 
to know a coquette. She will do just what she likes her- 
self whilst insisting on everybody else doing what the con- 
ventional code prescribes. In short, I can stand everything 
except her confounded hypocrisy. Thats what beats me. 

MRS WHITEFIELD [^Carried away by the relief of hearing her 
own opinion so eloquently expressed^ Oh, she i s a hypocrite. 
She is : she is. Isnt she ? 

TANNER. Then why do you want to marry me to her ? 

MRS WHITEFIELD \querulously^ There now! put it on me, 
of course. I never thought of it until Tavy told me she 
said I did. But, you know, I'm very fond of Tavy : hes a 
sort of son to me ; and I dont want him to be trampled on 
and made wretched. 

TANNER. Whereas I dont matter, I suppose. 

MRS WHITEFIELD. Oh, you are different, somehow: you 
are able to take care of yourself. Youd serve her out. And 
anyhow, she must marry somebody. 

TANNER. Aha ! there speaks the life instinct. You detest 
her ; but you feel that you must get her married. 

MRS WHITEFIELD [rising, shocked'\ Do you mean that I 
detest my own daughter ! Surely you dont believe me to 
be so wicked and unnatural as that, merely because I see 
her faults. 

TANNER [cynically'] You love her, then ? 

MRS WHITEFIELD. Why, of coursc I do. What queer 
things you say, Jack ! We cant help loving our own blood 

TANNER. Well, perhaps it saves unpleasantness to say so. 
But for my part, I suspect that the tables of consanguinity 
have a natural basis in a natural repugnance [he rises], 

MRS WHITEFIELD. You shouldnt Say things like that. 
Jack. I hope you wont tell Ann that I have been speaking 
to you. I only wanted to set myself right with you and 

Act IV Man and Superman 167 

Tavy, I couldnt sit mumchancc and have everything put 
on mc. 

TANNER \politclj\ Quite so. 

MRS WHITEFIELD [dissatisjied^ And now Ivc only made 
matters worse. Tavy's angry with me because I dont 
worship Ann. And when it's been put into my head that 
Ann ought to marry you, what can I say except that it 
would serve her right? 

TANNER. Thank you. 

MRS WHITEFIELD. Now dont bc silly and twist what I 
say into something I dont mean. I ought to have fair 
play — 

Ann comes from the villa, followed presently by Violet, who 
is dressed for driving. 

ANN {coming to her mother^ s right hand with threatening 
suavity] Well, mamma darling, you seem to be having a 
delightful chat with Jack. We can hear you all over the 

MRS WHITEFIELD [appalled] Have you overheard — 

TANNER. Never fear: Ann is only — well, we were dis- 
cussing that habit of hers just now. She hasnt heard a 

MRS WHITEFIELD [stoutly] I dont carc whether she has 
or not : I have a right to say what I please. 

VIOLET [arriving on the lawn and coming between Mrs. 
Whitefield and Tanner] Ive come to say goodbye. I'm off 
for my honeymoon. 

MRS WHITEFIELD [frying] Oh dont say that, Violet. And 
no wedding, no breakfast, no clothes, nor anything. 

VIOLET [petting her] It wont be for long. 

MRS WHITEFIELD. Dont let him take you to America. 
Promise me that you wont. 

VIOLET [very decidedly] I should think not, indeed. Dont 
cry, dear : I'm only going to the hotel. 

MRS WHITEFIELD. But going in that dress, with your 
luggage, makes one realize — [sle chokes, and then breaks out 
again] How I vwsh you were my daughter, Violet ! 

1 68 Man and Superman Act iv 

VIOLET {soothing her\ There, there : so I am. Ann will 
be jealous. 

MRS wHiTEFiELD. Ann doesnt care a bit for me. 

ANN. Fie, mother ! Come, now : you mustnt cry any 
more : you know Violet doesnt like it \Mrs Whitefield 
dries her eyes, and sub side s\ 

VIOLET. Goodbye, Jack. 

TANNER. Goodbye, Violet. 

VIOLET. The sooner you get married too, the better. 
You will be much less misunderstood. 

TANNER {restively] I quite expect to get married in the 
course of the afternoon. You all seem to have set your 
minds on it. 

VIOLET. You might do worse. {To Mrs Whitefield: putting 
her arm round her'\ Let me take you to the hotel with me : 
the drive will do you good. Come in and get a wrap. {She 
takes her towards the villd]. 

MRS WHITEFIELD {as they go up through the garden] I dont 
know what I shall do when you are gone, with no one but 
Ann in the house ; and she always occupied with the men ! 
It's not to be expected that your husband will care to be 
bothered with an old woman like me. Oh, you neednt tell 
me : politeness is all very well ; but I know what people 
think — {She talks herself and Violet out of sight and hearing]. 

Ann^ musing on Violefs opportune advice, approaches Tanner; 
examines him humorously for a moment from toe to top; and 
finally delivers her opinion. 

ANN. Violet is quite right. You ought to get married. 

TANNER {explosively] Ann : I will not marry you. Do you 
hear? I wont, wont, wont, wont, WONT marry you. 

ANN {placidly] Well, nobody axd you, sir she said, sir 
she said, sir she said. So thats settled. 

TANNER. Yes, nobody has asked me; but everybody 
treats the thing as settled. It's in the air. When we meet, 
the others go away on absurd pretexts to leave us alone to- 
gether. Ramsden no longer scowls at me : his eye beams, 
as if he were already giving you away to*me in church. 

Act IV Man and Superman 169 

Tavy refers me to your mother and gives me his blessing. 
Straker openly treats you as his future employer : it was he 
who first told me of it. 

ANN. Was that why you ran away? 

TANNER. Yes, only to be stopped by a lovesick brigand 
and run down like a truant schoolboy. 

ANN. Well, if you dont want to be married, you neednt 
be [sSe turns away from him and sits down, much at her ease]. 

TANNER ^following her] Does any man want to be hanged? 
Yet men let themselves be hanged without a struggle for 
life, though they could at least give the chaplain a black eye. 
We do the world's will, not our own. I have a frightful 
feeling that I shall let myself be married because it is the 
world's will that you should have a husband. 

ANN. I daresay I shall, someday. 

TANNER. But why mc — me of all men? Marriage is 
to me apostasy, profanation of the sanctuary of my soul, 
violation of my manhood, sale of my birthright, shameful 
surrender, ignominious capitulation, acceptance of defeat. 
I shall decay like a thing that has served its purpose and is 
done with ; I shall change from a man with a future to a 
man with a past ; I shall see in the greasy eyes of all the 
other husbands their relief at the arrival of a new prisoner 
to share their ignominy. The young men will scorn me as 
one who has sold out : to the women I, who have always 
been an enigma and a possibility, shall be merely somebody 
else's property — and damaged goods at that : a secondhand 
man at best. 

ANN. Well, your wife can put on a cap and make her- 
self ugly to keep you in countenance, like my grandmother. 

TANNER. So that she may make her triumph more insolent 
by publicly throwing away the bait the moment the trap 
snaps on the victim ! 

ANN. After all, though, what difference would it make? 
Beauty is all very well at first sight ; but who ever looks 
at it when it has been in the house three days? I thought 
our pictures very lovely when papa bought them; but I 

170 Man and Superman Act IV 

havnt looked at them for years. You never bother about 
my looks : you are too well used to me. I might be the 
umbrella stand. 

TANNER. You He, you vampire : you lie. 

ANN. Flatterer. Why are you trying to fascinate me, 
Jack, if you dont want to marry me ? 

TANNER. The Life Force. I am in the grip of the Life 

ANN. I dont understand in the least : it sounds like the 
Life Guards. 

TANNER. Why dont you marry Tavy.? He is willing. 
Can you not be satisfied unless your prey struggles ? 

ANN [turning to him as if to let him into a secret^ Tavy 
will never marry. Havnt you noticed that that sort of man 
never marries t 

TANNER. What ! a man who idolizes women ! who sees 
nothing in nature but romantic scenery for love duets ! 
Tavy, the chivalrous, the faithful, the tenderhearted and 
true ! Tavy never marry ! Why, he was born to be swept 
up by the first pair of blue eyes he meets in the street. 

ANN. Yes, I know. All the same. Jack, men like that 
always live in comfortable bachelor lodgings with broken 
hearts, and are adored by their landladies, and never get 
married. Men like you always get married. 

TANNER [smiting his brow'] How frightfully, horribly 
true ! It has been staring me in the face all my life ; and 
I never saw it before. 

ANN. Oh, its the same with women. The poetic tem- 
perament's a very nice temperament, very amiable, very 
harmless and poetic, I daresay; but it's an old maid's 

TANNER. Barren. The Life Force passes it by. 

ANN. If thats what you mean by the Life Force, yes. 

TANNER. You dout carc for Tavy? 

ANN [looking round carefully to make sure that Tavy is not 
within earshot] No. 

TANNER. And you do care for me ? 

Act IV Man and Superman 171 

ANN [rising quietly and shaking her Jinger at hini\ Now 
Jack ! Behave yourself. 

TANNER. Infamous, abandoned woman ! Devil ! 

ANN. Boa-constrictor! Elephant! 

TANNER. Hypocrite ! 

ANN \joftly\ I must be, for my future husband's sake. 

TANNER. For mine ! [Correcting himself savagely\ I mean 
for his. 

ANN [ignoring the correction"] Yes, for yours. You had 
better marry what you call a hypocrite, Jack. Women who 
are not hypocrites go about in rational dress and are 
insulted and get into all sorts of hot water. And then their 
husbands get dragged in too, and live in continual dread 
of fresh complications. Wouldnt you prefer a wife you 
could depend on? 

TANNER. No, a thousand times no : hot water is the 
revolutionist's element. You clean men as you clean milk- 
pails, by scalding them. 

ANN. Cold water has its uses too. It's healthy. 

TANNER, [despairingly] Oh, you are witty : at the 
supreme moment the Life Force endows you with every 
quality. Well, I too can be a hypocrite. Your father's 
will appointed me your guardian, not your suitor. I shall 
be faithful to my trust. 

ANN [/;/ low siren tones'] He asked me who would I have 
as my guardian before he made that will. I chose you ! 

TANNER. The will is yours then ! The trap was laid 
from the beginning. 

ANN [concentrating all her magic] From the beginning — 
from our childhood — for both of us — by the Life Force. 

TANNER. I will not marry you. I will not marry you. 

ANN. Oh, you will, you will. 

TANNER, I tell you, no, no, no. 

ANN. I tell you, yes, yes, yes. 


ANN [coaxing — imploring — almost exhausted] Yes. Before 
it is too late for repentance. Yes. 

172 Man and Superman Act IV 

TANNER [strui:k by the echo from the past] When did all 
this happen to me before? Are we two dreaming? 

ANN \suddenly losing her courage, with an anguish that she 
does not conceal] No. We are awake ; and you have said 
no : that is all. 

TANNER [brutally] Well ? 

ANN. Well, I made a mistake: you do not love me. 

TANNER [seizing her in his arms] It is false : I love you. 
The Life Force enchants me : I have the whole world in 
my arms when I clasp you. But I am fighting for my 
freedom, for my honor, for my self, one and indivisible. 

ANN. Your happiness will be worth them all. 

TANNER. You would scll frccdom and honor and self 
for happiness ? 

ANN. It will not be all happiness for me. Perhaps 

TANNER [groaning] Oh, that clutch holds and hurts. 
What have you grasped in me? Is there a father's heart 
as well as a mother's ? 

ANN. Take care, Jack : if anyone comes while we are 
like this, you will have to marry me. 

TANNER. If we two stood now on the edge of a preci- 
pice, I would hold you tight and jump. 

ANN [panting, failing more and more under the strain] Jack : 
let me go. I have dared so frightfully — it is lasting longer 
than I thought. Let me go : I cant bear it. 

TANNER. Nor I. Let it kill us. 

ANN. Yes : I dont care. I am at the end of my forces. 
I dont care. I think I am going to faint. 

At this moment Violet and Octavius come from the villa 
with Mrs Whitefield, who is wrapped up for driving. Simul- 
taneously M alone and Rams den, followed by Mendoxa and 
Straker, come in through the little gate in the paling. Tanner 
shamefacedly releases Ann, who raises her hand giddily to her 

MALONE. Take care. Something's the matter with the 

Act IV Man and Superman 173 

RAMSDEN. What does this mean ? 

VIOLET [running between Ann and Tanner'] Are you ill ? 

ANN [reeling, with a supreme effort] I have promised to 
marry Jack. [She swoons. Violet kneels by her and chafes her 
hand. Tanner runs round to her other hand, and tries to lift 
her head. Octavius goes to Violet' s assistance, but does not 
know what to do. Mrs Whitefeld hurries back into the villa. 
Octavius, Malone and Ramsden run to Ann and crowd round 
her, stooping to assist. Straker coolly comes to Ann^s feet, and 
Mendoza to her head, both upright and self-possessed]. 

STRAKER. Now then, ladies and gentlemen : she dont 
want a crowd round her : she wants air — all the air she 
can git. If you please, gents — [Malone and Ramsden allow 
him to drive them gently past Ann and up the lawn towards 
the garden, where Octavius, who has already become conscious 
of his uselessness, joins them. Straker, following them up, 
pauses for a moment to instruct Tanner]. Dont lift er ed, 
Mr Tanner: let it go flat so's the blood can run back 
into it. 

MENDOZA. He is right, Mr Tanner. Trust to the air of 
the Sierra. [He withdraws delicately to the garden steps]. 

TANNER [rising] I yield to your superior knowledge of 
physiology, Henry. [He withdraws to the corner of the lawn; 
and Octavius immediately hurries down to him]. 

TAVY [aside to Tanner, grasping his hand] Jack : be very 

TANNER [aside to Tavy] I never asked her. It is a trap 
for me. [He goes up the lawn towards the garden. Octavius 
remains petrified]. 

MENDOZA [intercepting Mrs White field, who comes from the 
villa with a glass of brandy] What is this, madam [he takes 
it from her]\ 

MRS WHITEFIELD. A little brandy. 

MENDOZA. The worst thing you could give her. Allow 
me. [He swallows it\ Trust to the air of the Sierra, 

For a moment the men all forget Ann and stare at Mendoza. 

174 Man and Superman Act iv 

ANN [/;/ Violet's ear, clutching her round the neck] Violet : 
did Jack say anything when I fainted? 


ANN. Ah ! [with a sigh of intense relief she relapses], 

MRS wHiTEFiELD. Oh, shcs fainted again. 

They are about to rush back to her; but Mendoxa stops 
them with a warning gesture, 

ANN {supine] No I havnt. I'm quite happy. 

TANNER [suddenly walking determinedly to her, and snatching 
her hand from Violet to feel her pulse] Why, her pulse is 
positively bounding. Come, get up. What nonsense ! Up 
with you. \He gets her up summarily]. 

ANN. Yes : I feel strong enough now. But you very 
nearly killed me, Jack, for all that. 

MALONE. A rough wooer, eh? Theyre the best sort, 
Miss Whitefield. I congratulate Mr Tanner ; and I hope 
to meet you and him as frequent guests at the Abbey. 

ANN. Thank you. [She goes past Malone to Octavius] 
Ricky Ticky Tavy : congratulate me. [Aside to him] I 
want to make you cry for the last time. 

TAVY [steadfastly] No more tears. I am happy in your 
happinej^. And I believe in you in spite of everything. 

RAMSDEN [coming between Malone and Tanner] You are a 
happy man. Jack Tanner. I envy you. 

MENDOZA. [advancing between Violet and Tanner] Sir : 
there are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your 
heart's desire. The other is to get it. Mine and yours, sir. 

TANNER. Mr Mendoza : I have no heart's desires. 
Ramsden : it is very easy for you to call me a happy man : 
you are only a spectator. I am one of the principals; and 
I know better. Ann : stop tempting Tavy, and come back 
to me. 

ANN [complying] You are absurd. Jack. [Bhe takes his 
proffered arm]. 

TANNER [continuing] I solemnly say that I am not a 
happy man. Ann looks happy ; but she is only triumphant, 
successful, victorious. That is not happiness, but the price 

Act IV Man and Superman 175 

for which the strong sell their happiness. What we have 
both done this afternoon is to renounce happiness, renounce 
freedom, renounce tranquillity, above all, renounce the 
romantic possibilities of an unknown future, for the cares 
of a household and a family. I beg that no man may seize 
the occasion to get half drunk and utter imbecile speeches 
and coarse pleasantries at my expense. We propose to 
furnish our own house according to our own taste ; and I 
hereby give notice that the seven or eight travelling clocks, 
the four or five dressing cases, the salad bowls, the carvers 
and fish slices, the copy of Tennyson in extra morocco, 
and |11 the other articles you are preparing to heap upon 
us, will be instantly sold, and the proceeds devoted to 
circulating free copies of the Revolutionist's Handbook. 
The wedding will take place three days after our return 
to England, by special licence, at the office of the district 
superintendent registrar, in the presence of my solicitor 
and his clerk, who, like his clients, will be in ordinary 
walking dress — 

VIOLET [with intense conviction'] You area brute, Jack. 

ANN [looking at him with fond pride and caressing his arm] 
Never mind her, dear. Go on talking. ^ 

TANNER. Talking! 

Universal laughter^ 



{Member of the Idle Rich Class). 


"No one can contemplate the present condition of the masses of the 
people without desiring something like a revolution for the better." &r 
Robert Giffen. Essays in Finance, vol. ii. p. 393. 


A revolutionist is one who desires to discard the existing 
social order and try another. 

The constitution of England is revolutionary. To a 
Russian or Anglo-Indian bureaucrat, a general election is as 
much a revolution as a referendum or plebiscite in which 
the people fight instead of voting. The French Revolu- 
tion overthrew one set of rulers and substituted another 
with different interests and different views. That is what a 
general election enables the people to do in England every 
seven years if they choose. Revolution is therefore a national 
institution in England ; and its advocacy by an Englishman 
needs no apology. 

Every man is a revolutionist concerning the thing he 
understands. For example, every person who has mastered 
a profession is a sceptic concerning it, and consequently a 

Every genuinely religious person is a heretic and there- 
fore a revolutionist. 

i8o Man and Superman 

All who achieve real distinction in life begin as revolu- 
tionists. The most distinguished persons become more re- 
volutionary as they grow older, though they are commonly 
supposed to become more conservative owing to their loss 
of faith in conventional methods of reform. 

Any person under the age of thirty, wh#, having any 
knowledge of the existing social order, is not a revolutionist, 
is an inferior. 

And Yet 

Revolutions have never lightened the burden of 
tyranny: they have only shifted it to another shoulder. 

John Tanner. 



If there were no God, said the eighteenth century Deist, 
it would be necessary to invent Him. Now this XVIII 
century god was deus ex machina, the god who helped those 
who could not help themselves, the god of the lazy and 
incapable. The nineteenth century decided that there is 
indeed no such god ; and now Man must take in hand all 
the work that he used to shirk with an idle prayer. He 
must, in effect, change himself into the political Providence 
which he formerly conceived as god ; and such change is 
not only possible, but the only sort of change that is real. 
The mere transfiguration of institutions, as from military 
and priestly dominance to commercial and scientific domin- 
ance, from commercial dominance to proletarian democracy, 
from slavery to serfdom, from serfdom to capitalism, from 
monarchy to republicanism, from polytheism to monothe- 
ism, from monotheism to atheism, from atheism to panthe- 
istic humanitarianism, from general illiteracy to general 
literacy, from romance to realism, from realism to mysticism, 
from metaphysics to physics, are all but changes from 

1 82 Man and Superman 

Tweedledum to Tweedledee : plus ^a change^ plus cest 
la meme chose. But the changes from the crab apple to the 
pippin, from the wolf and fox to the house dog, from the 
charger of Henry V to the brewer's draught horse and the 
race-horse, are real ; for here Man has played the god, 
subduing Nature to his intention, and ennobling or debas- 
ing Life for a set purpose. And what can be done with a 
wolf can be done with a man. If such monsters as the 
tramp and the gentleman can appear as mere by-products 
of Man's individual greed and folly, what might we not 
hope for as a main product of his universal aspiration ? 

This is no new conclusion. The despair of institutions, 
and the inexorable " ye must be born again," with Mrs 
Poyser's stipulation, " and born different," recurs in every 
generation. The cry for the Superman did not begin with 
Nietzsche, nor will it end with his vogue. But it has always 
been silenced by the same question : what kind of person 
is this Superman to be ? You do not ask for a super-apple, 
but for an eatable apple ; nor for a superhorse, but for a 
horse of greater draught or velocity. Neither is it of any 
use to ask for a Superman : you must furnish a specification 
of the sort of man you want. Unfortunately you do not 
know what sort of man you want. Some sort of goodlooking 
philosopher-athlete, with a handsome healthy woman for 
his mate, perhaps. 

Vague as this is, it is a great advance on the popular 
demand for a perfect gentleman and a perfect lady. And, 
after all, no market demand in the world takes the form of 
exact technical specification of the article required. Ex- 
cellent poultry and potatoes are produced to satisfy the 
demand of housewives who do not know the technical 
differences between a tuber and a chicken. They will tell 
you that the proof of the pudding is in the eating ; and they 
are right. The proof of the Superman will be in the living ; 
and we shall find out how to produce him by the old 
method of trial and error, and not by waiting for a com- 
pletely convincing prescription of his ingredients. 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 183 

Certain common and obvious mistakes may be ruled out 
from the beginning. For example, we agree that we want 
superior mind ; but we need not fall into the football club 
folly of counting on this as a product of superior body. 
Yet if we recoil so far as to conclude that superior mind 
consists in being the dupe of our ethical classifications of 
virtues and vices, in short, of conventional morality, we 
shall fall out of the fryingpan of the football club into the 
fire of the Sunday School. If we must choose between 
a race of athletes and a race of "good" men, let us have 
the athletes : better Samson and Milo than Calvin and 
Robespierre. But neither alternative is worth changing for : 
Samson is no more a Superman than Calvin. What then 
are we to do ? 



Let us hurry over the obstacles set up by property and 
marriage. Revolutionists make too much of them. No doubt 
it is easy to demonstrate that property will destroy society 
unless society destroys it. No doubt, also, property has 
hitherto held its own and destroyed all the empires. But 
that was because the superficial objection to it (that it 
distributes social wealth and the social labour burden in a 
grotesquely inequitable manner) did not threaten the exist- 
ence of the race, but only the individual happiness of its 
units, and finally the maintenance of some irrelevant 
political form or other, such as a nation, an empire, or the 
like. Now as happiness never matters to Nature, as she 
neither recognizes flags and frontiers nor cares a straw 
whether the economic system adopted by a society is 
feudal, capitalistic or collectivist, provided it keeps the 
race afoot (the hive and the anthill being as acceptable to 
her as Utopia), the demonstrations of Socialists, though 
irrefutable, will never make any serious impression on 
property. The knell of that overrated institution will not 
sound until it is felt to conflict with some more vital matter 
than mere personal inequities in industrial economy. No 
such conflict was perceived whilst society had not yet grown 
beyond national communities too small and simple to dis- 
astrously overtax Man's limited political capacity. But we 
have now reached the stage of international organization. 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 185 

Man's political capacity and magnanimity arc clearly beaten 
by the vastness and complexity of the problems forced on 
him. And it is at this anxious moment that he finds, when 
he looks upward for a mightier mind to help him, that the 
heavens are empty. He will presently see that his discarded 
formula that Man is the Temple of the Holy Ghost happens 
to be precisely true, and that it is only through his own 
brain and hand that this Holy Ghost, formally the most 
nebulous person in the Trinity, and now become its sole 
survivor as it has always been its real Unity, can help him 
in any way. And so, if the Superman is to come, he must 
be born of Woman by Man's intentional and well-con- 
sidered contrivance. Conviction of this will smash every- 
thing that opposes it. Even Property and Marriage, which 
laugh at the laborer's petty complaint that he is defrauded 
of "surplus value," and at the domestic miseries of the 
slaves of the wedding ring, will themselves be laughed 
aside as the lightest of trifles if they cross this conception 
when it becomes a fully realized vital purpose of the race. 

That they must cross it becomes obvious the moment 
we acknowledge the futility of breeding man for special 
qualities as we breed cocks for game, greyhounds for speed, 
or sheep for mutton. What is really important in Man is 
the part of him that wc do not yet understand. Of much 
of it we are not even conscious, just as we are not normally 
conscious of keeping up our circulation by our heart-pump, 
though if we neglect it we die. We are therefore driven to 
the conclusion that when we have carried selection as far 
as we can by rejecting from the list of eligible parents all 
persons who are uninteresting, unpromising, or blemished 
without any set-ofF, we shall still have to trust to the guid- 
ance of fancy (^alias Voice of Nature), both in the breeders 
and the parents, for that superiority in the unconscious 
self which will be the true characteristic of the Superman. 

At this point we perceive the importance of giving fancy 
the widest possible field. To cut humanity up into small 
cliques, and effectively limit the selection of the individual 

1 86 Man and Superman 

to his own clique, is to postpone the Superman for eons, 
if not for ever. Not only should every person be nourished 
and trained as a possible parent, but there should be no 
possibility of such an obstacle to natural selection as the 
objection of a countess to a navvy or of a duke to a 
charwoman. Equality is essential to good breeding; and 
equality, as all economists know, is incompatible with 

Besides, equality is an essential condition of bad breed- 
ing also; and bad breeding is indispensable to the weed- 
ing out of the human race. When the conception of 
heredity took hold of the scientific imagination in the 
middle of last century, its devotees announced that it was 
a crime to marry the lunatic to the lunatic or the con- 
sumptive to the consumptive. But pray are we to try to 
correct our diseased stocks by infecting our healthy stocks 
with them? Clearly the attraction which disease has for 
diseased people is beneficial to the race. If two really un- 
healthy people get married, they will, as likely as not, 
have a great number of children who will all die before 
they reach maturity. This is a far more satisfactory 
arrangement than the tragedy of a union between a healthy 
and an unhealthy person. Though more costly than steril- 
ization of the unhealthy, it has the enormous advantage 
that in the event of our notions of health and unhealth 
being erroneous (which to some extent they most certainly 
are), the error will be corrected by experience instead of 
confirmed by evasion. 

One fact must be faced resolutely, in spite of the 
shrieks of the romantic. There is no evidence that the best 
citizens are the offspring of congenial marriages, or that a 
conflict of temperament is not a highly important part of 
what breeders call crossing. On the contrary, it is quite 
sufficiently probable that good results may be obtained from 
parents who would be extremely unsuitable companions 
and partners, to make it certain that the experiment of 
mating them will sooner or later be tried purposely 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 187 

almost as often as it is now tried accidentally. But 
mating such couples must clearly not involve marrying 
them. In conjugation two complementary persons may 
supply one another's deficiencies : in the domestic partner- 
ship of marriage they only feel them and suffer from them. 
Thus the son of a robust, cheerful, eupeptic British 
country squire, with the tastes and range of his class, and 
of a clever, imaginative, intellectual, highly civilized 
Jewess, might be very superior to both his parents ; but it 
is not likely that the Jewess would find the squire an in- 
teresting companion, or his habits, his friends, his place 
and mode of life congenial to her. Therefore marriage, 
whilst it is made an indispensable condition of mating, 
will delay the advent of Superman as effectually as Pro- 
perty, and will be modified by the impulse towards him 
just as effectually. 

The practical abrogation of Property and Marriage as 
they exist at present will occur without being much 
noticed. To the mass of men, the intelligent abolition of 
property would mean nothing except an increase in the 
quantity of food, clothing, housing and comfort at their 
personal disposal, as well as a greater control over their 
time and circumstances. Very few persons now make any 
distinction between virtually complete property and pro- 
perty held on such highly developed public conditions as 
to place its income on the same footing as that of a pro- 
pertyless clergyman, officer, or civil servant. A landed 
proprietor may still drive men and women off his land, 
demolish their dwellings, and replace them with sheep or 
deer; and in the unregulated trades the private trader 
may still spunge on the regulated trades and sacrifice the 
life and health of the nation as lawlessly as the Man- 
chester cotton manufacturers did at the beginning of last 
century. But though the Factory Code on the one hand, 
and Trade Union organization on the other, have, within 
the lifetime of men still living, converted the old un- 
restricted property of the cotton manufacturer in his mill 

1 88 Man and Superman 

and the cotton spinner in his labor into a mere permission 
to trade or work on stringent public or collective con- 
ditions, imposed in the interest of the general welfare 
without any regard for individual hard cases, people in 
Lancashire still speak of their "property" in the old 
terms, meaning nothing more by it than the things a thief 
can be punished for stealing. The total abolition of pro- 
perty, and the conversion of every citizen into a salaried 
functionary in the public service, would leave much more 
than 99 per cent of the nation quite unconscious of any 
greater change than now takes place when the son of a 
shipowner goes into the navy. They would still call their 
watches and umbrellas and back gardens their property. 

Marriage also will persist as a name attached to a 
general custom long after the custom itself will have 
altered. For example, modern English marriage, as modi- 
fied by divorce and by Married Women's Property Acts, 
differs more from early XIX century marriage than Byron's 
marriage did from Shakespear's. At the present moment 
marriage in England differs not only from marriage in 
France, but from marriage in Scotland. Marriage as modi- 
fied by the divorce laws in South Dakota would be called 
mere promiscuity in Clapham. Yet the Americans, far 
from taking a profligate and cynical view of marriage, do 
homage to its ideals with a seriousness that seems old 
fashioned in Clapham. Neither in England nor America 
would a proposal to abolish marriage be tolerated for a 
moment; and yet nothing is more certain than that in 
both countries the progressive modification of the marriage 
contract will be continued until it is no more onerous nor 
irrevocable than any ordinary commercial deed of partner- 
ship. Were even this dispensed with, people would still 
call themselves husbands and wives ; describe their com- 
panionships as marriages; and be for the most part un- 
conscious that they were any less married than Henry 
VIII. For though a glance at the legal conditions of 
marriage in different Christian countries shews that marriage 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 189 

varies legally from frontier to frontier, domesticity varies 
so little that most people believe their own marriage laws 
to be universal. Consequently here again, as in the case 
of Property, the absolute confidence of the public in 
the stability of the institution's name, makes it all the 
easier to alter its substance. 

However, it cannot be denied that one of the changes 
in public opinion demanded by the need for the Superman 
is a very unexpected one. It is nothing less than the dis- 
solution of the present necessary association of marriage 
with conjugation, which most unmarried people regard 
as the very diagnostic of marriage. They are wrong, of 
course : it would be quite as near the truth to say that 
conjugation is the one purely accidental and incidental 
condition of marriage. Conjugation is essential to nothing 
but the propagation of the race ; and the moment that 
paramount need is provided for otherwise than by marri- 
age, conjugation, from Nature's creative point of view, 
ceases to be essential in marriage. But marriage docs not 
thereupon cease to be so economical, convenient, and com- 
fortable, that the Superman might safely bribe the matri- 
monomaniacs by offering to revive all the old inhuman 
stringency and irrevocability of marriage, to abolish divorce, 
to confirm the horrible bond which still chains decent 
people to drunkards, criminals and wasters, provided only 
the complete extrication of conjugation from it were con- 
ceded to him. For if people could form domestic com- 
panionships on no easier terms than these, they would still 
marry. The Roman Catholic, forbidden by his Church to 
avail himself of the divorce laws, marries as freely as the 
South Dakotan Presbyterians who can change partners 
with a facility that scandalizes the old world ; and were 
his Church to dare a further step towards Christianity and 
enjoin celibacy on its laity as well as on its clergy, marri- 
ages would still be contracted for the sake of domesticity 
by perfectly obedient sons and daughters of the Church. 
One need not further pursue these hypotheses : they are 

I go Man and Superman 

only suggested here to help the reader to analyze marriage 
into its two functions of regulating conjugation and supply- 
ing a form of domesticity. These two functions are quite 
separable ; and domesticity is the only one of the two 
which is essential to the existence of marriage, because 
conjugation without domesticity is not marriage at all, 
whereas domesticity without conjugation is still marriage : 
in fact it is necessarily the actual condition of all fertile 
marriages during a great part of their duration, and of 
some marriages during the whole of it. 

Taking it, then, that Property and Marriage, by destroy- 
ing Equality and thus hampering sexual selection with 
irrelevant conditions, are hostile to the evolution of the 
Superman, it is easy to understand why the only gener- 
ally known modern experiment in breeding the human 
race took place in a community which discarded both 



In 1848 the Oneida Community was founded in America 
to carry out a resolution arrived at by a handful of Per- 
fectionist Communists " that we will devote ourselves 
exclusively to the establishment of the Kingdom of God." 
Though the American nation declared that this sort of 
thing was not to be tolerated in a Christian country, the 
Oneida Community held its own for over thirty years, dur- 
ing which period it seems to have produced healthier 
children and done and suffered less evil than any Joint 
Stock Company on record. It was, however, a highly 
selected community; for a genuine communist (roughly 
definable as an intensely proud person who proposes to 
enrich the common fund instead of to spunge on it) is 
superior to an ordinary joint stock capitalist precisely as 
an ordinary joint stock capitalist is superior to a pirate. 
Further, the Perfectionists were mightily shepherded by 
their chief Noyes, one of those chance attempts at the 
Superman which occur from time to time in spite of the 
interference of Man's blundering institutions. The exist- 
ence of Noyes simplified the breeding problem for the 
Communists ; for the question as to what sort of man 
they should strive to breed was settled at once by the 
obvious desirability of breeding another Noyes. 

192 Man and Superman 

But an experiment conducted by a handful of people, 
who, after thirty years of immunity from the unintentional 
child slaughter that goes on by ignorant parents in private 
homes, numbered only 300, could do very little except 
prove that the Communists, under the guidance of a Super- 
man "devoted exclusively to the establishment of the 
Kingdom of God," and caring no more for property and 
marriage than a Cambervvell minister cares for Hindoo 
Caste or Suttee, might make a much better job of their 
lives than ordinary folk under the harrow of both these 
institutions. Yet their Superman himself admitted that this 
apparent success was only part of the abnormal phenomenon 
of his own occurrence ; for when he came to the end of his 
powers through age, he himself guided and organized the 
voluntary relapse of the communists into marriage, capital- 
ism, and customary private life, thus admitting that the 
real social solution was not what a casual Superman could 
persuade a picked company to do for him, but what a whole 
community of Supermen would do spontaneously. If Noyes 
had had to organize, not a few dozen Perfectionists, but 
the whole United States, America would have beaten him 
as completely as England beat Oliver Cromwell, France 
Napoleon, or Rome Julius Caesar. Cromwell learnt by 
bitter experience that God himself cannot raise a people 
above its own level, and that even though you stir a nation 
to sacrifice all its appetites to its conscience, the result will 
still depend wholly on what sort of conscience the nation 
has got. Napoleon seems to have ended by regarding man- 
kind as a troublesome pack of hounds only worth keeping 
for the sport of hunting with them. Caesar's capacity for 
fighting without hatred or resentment was defeated by the 
determination of his soldiers to kill their enemies in the 
field instead of taking them prisoners to be spared by Caesar ; 
and his civil supremacy was purchased by colossal bribery 
of the citizens of Rome. What great rulers cannot do, 
codes and religions cannot do. Man reads his own nature 
into every ordinance : if you devise a superhuman com- 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 193 

mandmcnt so cunningly that it cannot be misinterpreted 
in terms of his will, he will denounce it as seditious blas- 
phemy, or else disregard it as either crazy or totally unintel- 
ligible. Parliaments and synods may tinker as much as they 
please with their codes and creeds as circumstances alter 
the balance of classes and their interests; and, as a result 
of the tinkering, there may be ar occasional illusion of 
moral evolution, as when the victory of the commercial 
caste over the military caste leads to the substitution of 
social boycotting and pecuniary damages for duelling. At 
certain moments there may even be a considerable material 
advance, as when the conquest of political power by the 
working class produces a better distribution of wealth 
through the simple action of the selfishness of the new 
masters ; but all this is mere readjustment and reformation: 
until the heart and mind of the people is changed the very 
greatest man will no more dare to govern on the assump- 
tion that all are as great as he than a drover dare leave his 
flock to find its way through the streets as he himself would. 
Until there is an England in which every man is a Crom- 
well, a France in which every man is a Napoleon, a Rome 
in which every man is a Caesar, a Germany in which every 
man is a Luther plus a Goethe, the world will be no more 
improved by its heroes than a Brixton villa is improved by 
the pyramid of Cheops. The production of such nations is 
the only real change possible to us. 



But would such a change be tolerated if Man must rise 
above himself to desire it ? It would, through his miscon- 
ception of its nature. Man does desire an ideal Superman 
with such energy as he can spare from his nutrition, and 
has in every age magnified the best living substitute for it 
he can find. His least incompetent general is set up as an 
Alexander ; his king is the first gentleman in the world ; 
his Pope is a saint. He is never without an array of human 
idols who are all nothing but sham Supermen. That the 
real Superman will snap his superfingers at all Man's pre- 
sent trumpery ideals of right, duty, honor, justice, religion, 
even decency, and accept moral obligations beyond present 
human endurance, is a thing that contemporary Man does 
not foresee : in fact he does not notice it when our casual 
Supermen do it in his very face. He actually does it him- 
self every day without knowing it. He will therefore make 
no objection to the production of a race of what he calls 
Great Men or Heroes, because he will imagine them, not 
as true Supermen, but as himself endowed with infinite 
brains, infinite courage, and infinite money. 

The most troublesome opposition will arise from the 
general fear of mankind that any interference with our con- 
jugal customs will be an interference with our pleasures 


The Revolutionist's Handbook 195 

and our romance. This fear, by putting on airs of offended 
morality, has always intimidated people who have not 
measured its essential weakness; but it will prevail with 
those degenerates only in whom the instinct of fertility has 
faded into a mere itching for pleasure. The modern devices 
for combining pleasure with sterility, now universally known 
and accessible, enable these persons to weed themselves out 
of the race, a process already vigorously at work ; and the 
consequent survival of the intelligently fertile means the 
survival of the partizans of the Superman ; for what is 
proposed is nothing but the replacement of the old un- 
intelligent, inevitable, almost unconscious fertility by an 
intelligently controlled, conscious fertility, and the 
elimination of the mere voluptuary from the evolutionary 
process.^ Even if this selective agency had not been invented, 
the purpose of the race would still shatter the opposition of 
individual instincts. Not only do the bees and the ants 
satisfy their reproductive and parental instincts vicariously ; 
but marriage itself successfully imposes celibacy on millions 
of unmarried normal men and women. In short, the indi- 
vidual instinct in this matter, overwhelming as it is thought- 
lessly supposed to be, is really a finally negligible one. 

* The part played in evolution by the voluptuary will be the same as 
that already played by the glutton. The glutton, as the man with the 
strongest motive for nourishing himself, will always take more pains than 
his fellows to get food. When food is so difficult to get that only great 
exertions can secure a sufficient supply of it, the glutton's appetite develops 
his cunning and enterprise to the utmost ; and he becomes not only the 
best fed but the ablest man in the community. But in more hospitable 
climates, or where the social organization of the food supply makes it 
easy for a man to overeat, then the glutton eats himself out of health and 
finally out of existence. All other voluptuaries prosper and perish in the 
same way; and this is why the survival of the fittest means finally the 
survival of the self-controlled, because they alone can adapt themselves to 
the perpetual shifting of conditions produced by industrial progress. 


The need for the Superman is, in its most imperative 
aspect, a political one. We have been driven to Proletarian 
Democracy by the failure of all the alternative systems ; 
for these depended on the existence of Supermen acting 
as despots or oligarchs ; and not only were these Supermen 
not always or even often forthcoming at the right moment 
and in an eligible social position, but when they were 
forthcoming they could not, except for a short time and 
by morally suicidal coercive methods, impose super- 
humanity on those whom they governed; so, by mere 
force of "human nature," government by consent of the 
governed has supplanted the old plan of governing the 
citizen as a public-schoolboy is governed. 

Now we have yet to see the man who, having any 
practical experience of Proletarian Democracy, has any 
belief in its capacity for solving great political problems, 
or even for doing ordinary parochial work intelligently 
and economically. Only under despotisms and oligarchies 
has the Radical faith in "universal suffrage" as a political 
panacea arisen. It withers the moment it is exposed to 
practical trial, because Democracy cannot rise above the 
level of the human material of which its voters are made. 
Switzerland seems happy in comparison with Russia ; but 
if Russia were as small as Switzerland, and had her social 


The Revolutionist's Handbook 197 

problems simplified in the same way by impregnable 
natural fortifications and a population educated by the 
same variety and intimacy of international intercourse, 
there might be little to choose between them. At all 
events Australia and Canada, which are virtually protected 
democratic republics, and France and the United States, 
which are avowedly independent democratic republics, 
arc neither healthy, wealthy nor wise ; and they would be 
worse instead of better if their popular ministers were not 
experts in the art of dodging popular enthusiasms and 
duping popular ignorance. The politician who once had 
to learn how to flatter Kings has now to learn how to 
fascinate, amuse, coax, humbug, frighten or otherwise 
strike the fancy of the electorate ; and though in advanced 
modern States, where the artizan is better educated than 
the King, it takes a much bigger man to be a successful 
demagogue than to be a successful courtier, yet he who 
holds popular convictions with prodigious energy is the 
man for the mob, whilst the frailer sceptic who is cau- 
tiously feeling his way towards the next century has no 
chance unless he happens by accident to have the specific 
artistic talent of the mountebank as well, in which case it 
is as a mountebank that he catches votes, and not as a 
meliorist. Consequently the demagogue, though he pro- 
fesses (and fails) to readjust matters in the interests of 
the majority of the electors, yet stereotypes mediocrity, 
organizes intolerance, disparages exhibitions of uncommon 
qualities, and glorifies conspicuous exhibitions of common 
ones. He manages a small job well : he muddles rhetori- 
cally through a large one. When a great political move- 
ment takes place, it is not consciously led nor organized : 
the unconscious self in mankind breaks its way through 
the problem as an elephant breaks through a jungle; and 
the politicians make speeches about whatever happens in 
the process, which, with the best intentions, they do all in 
their power to prevent. Finally, when social aggregation 
arrives at a point demanding international organization 

198 Man and Superman 

before the demagogues and electorates have learnt how to 
manage even a country parish properly much less inter- 
nationalize Constantinople, the whole political business 
goes to smash ; and presently we have Ruins of Empires, 
New Zealanders sitting on a broken arch of London 
Bridge, and so forth. 

To that recurrent catastrophe we shall certainly come 
again unless we can have a Democracy of Supermen ; and 
the production of such a Democracy is the only change 
that is now hopeful enough to nerve us to the effort that 
Revolution demands. 



Why the bees should pamper their mothers whilst 
we pamper only our operatic prima donnas is a question 
worth reflecting on. Our notion of treating a mother is, 
not to increase her supply of food, but to cut it off by 
forbidding her to work in a factory for a month after 
her confinement. Everything that can make birth a mis- 
fortune to the parents as well as a danger to the mother is 
conscientiously done. When a great French writer, Emil 
Zola, alarmed at the sterilization of his nation, wrote an 
eloquent and powerful book to restore the prestige of 
parentage, it was at once assumed in England that a work 
of this character, with such a title as Fecundity, was too 
abominable to be translated, and that any attempt to deal 
with the relations of the sexes from any other than the 
voluptuary or romantic point of view must be sternly put 
down. Now if this assumption were really founded on 
public opinion, it would indicate an attitude of disgust 
and resentment towards the Life Force that could only 
arise in a diseased and moribund community in which 
Ibsen's Hedda Gabler would be the typical woman. But 
it has no vital foundation at all. The prudery of the news- 
papers is, like the prudery of the dinner table, a mere 
difficulty of education and language. We are not taught to 
think decently on these subjects, and consequently we 

200 Man and Superman 

have no language for them except indecent language. We 
therefore have to declare them unfit for public discussion, 
because the only terms in which we can conduct the dis- 
cussion are unfit for public use. Physiologists, who have a 
technical vocabulary at their disposal, find no difficulty ; 
and masters of language who think decently can write 
popular stories like Zola's Fecundity or Tolstoy's Resurrec- 
tion without giving the smallest ofi^ence to readers who can 
also think decently. But the ordinary modern journalist, 
who has never discussed such matters except in ribaldry, 
cannot write a simple comment on a divorce case without a 
conscious shamefulness or a furtive facetiousness that makes 
it impossible to read the comment aloud in company. All 
this ribaldry and prudery (the two are the same) does not 
mean that people do not feel decently on the subject : on 
the contrary, it is just the depth and seriousness of our 
feeling that makes its desecration by vile language and 
coarse humor intolerable; so that at last we cannot bear 
to have it spoken of at all because only one in a thousand 
can speak of it without wounding our self-respect, especi- 
ally the self-respect of women. Add to the horrors of 
popular language the horrors of popular poverty. In 
crowded populations poverty destroys the possibility of 
cleanliness; and in the absence of cleanliness many of the 
natural conditions of life become offensive and noxious, 
with the result that at last the association of uncleanliness 
with these natural conditions becomes so overpowering 
that among civilized people (that is, people massed in the 
labyrinths of slums we call cities), half their bodily life 
becomes a guilty secret, unmentionable except to the 
doctor in emergencies ; and Hedda Gabler shoots herself 
because maternity is so unladylike. In short, popular 
prudery is only a mere incident of popular squalor : the 
subjects which it taboos remain the most interesting and 
earnest of subjects in spite of it. 



Unfortunately the earnest people get drawn ofF the 
track of evolution by the illusion of progress. Any Socialist 
can convince us easily that the difference between Man as 
he is and Man as he might become, without further evolu- 
tion, under millennial conditions of nutrition, environment, 
and training, is enormous. He can shew that inequality 
and iniquitous distribution of wealth and allotment of labor 
have arisen through an unscientific economic system, and 
that Man, faulty as he is, no more intended to establish 
any such ordered disorder than a moth intends to be burnt 
when it flies into a candle flame. He can shew that the 
difference between the grace and strength of the acrobat 
and the bent back of the rheumatic field laborer is a 
difference produced by conditions, not by nature. He can 
shew that many of the most detestable human vices arc 
not radical, but are mere reactions of our institutions on 
our very virtues. The Anarchist, the Fabian, the Salva- 
tionist, the Vegetarian, the doctor, the lawyer, the parson, 
the professor of ethics, the gymnast, the soldier, the sports- 
man, the inventor, the political program-maker, all have 
some prescription for bettering us ; and almost all their 
remedies arc physically possible and aimed at admitted 
evils. To them the limit of progress is, at worst, the com- 
pletion of all the suggested reforms and the levelling up of 

202 Man and Superman 

all men to the point attained already by the most highly 
nourished and cultivated in mind and body. 

Here, then, as it seems to them, is an enormous field for 
the energy of the reformer. Here are many noble goals 
attainable by many of those paths up the Hill Difficulty 
along which great spirits love to aspire. Unhappily, the 
hill will never be climbed by Man as we know him. It 
need not be denied that if we all struggled bravely to the 
end of the reformers' paths we should improve the world 
prodigiously. But there is no more hope in that If than in 
the equally plausible assurance that if the sky falls we shall 
all catch larks. We are not going to tread those paths : we 
have not sufficient energy. We do not desire the end 
enough : indeed in most cases we do not effectively desire 
it at all. Ask any man would he like to be a better man ; 
and he will say yes, most piously. Ask him would he 
like to have a million of money; and he will say yes, most 
sincerely. But the pious citizen who would like to be a 
better man goes on behaving just as he did before. And 
the tramp who would like the million does not take the 
trouble to earn ten shillings : multitudes of men and women, 
all eager to accept a legacy of a million, live and die with- 
out having ever possessed five pounds at one time, although 
beggars have died in rags on mattresses stuffed with gold 
which they accumulated because they desired it enough to 
nerve them to get it and keep it. The economists who dis- 
covered that demand created supply soon had to limit the 
proposition to "effective demand," which turned out, in 
the final analysis, to mean nothing more than supply 
itself; and this holds good in politics, morals, and all other 
departments as well : the actual supply is the measure of 
the effective demand ; and the mere aspirations and pro- 
fessions produce nothing. No community has ever yet 
passed beyond the initial phases in which its pugnacity 
and fanaticism enabled it to found a nation, and its cupidity 
to establish and develop a commercial civilization. Even 
these stages have never been attained by public spirit, but 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 203 

always by intolerant wilfulness and brute force. Take the 
Reform Bill of 1832 as an example of a conflict between 
two sections of educated Englishmen concerning a political 
measure which was as obviously necessary and inevitable 
as any political measure has ever been or is ever likely to 
be. It was not passed until the gentlemen of Birmingham 
had made arrangements to cut the throats of the gentlemen 
of St. James's parish in due military form. It would not 
have been passed to this day if there had been no force 
behind it except the logic and public conscience of the 
Utilitarians. A despotic ruler with as much sense as Queen 
Elizabeth would have done better than the mob of grown- 
up Eton boys who governed us then by privilege, and who, 
since the introduction of practically Manhood Suffrage in 
1884, now govern us at the request of proletarian Demo- 

At the present time we have, instead of the Utilitarians, 
the Fabian- Society, with its peaceful, constitutional, moral, 
economical policy of Socialism, which needs nothing for 
its bloodless and benevolent realization except that the 
English people shall understand it and approve of it. But 
why are the Fabians well spoken of in circles where thirty 
years ago the word Socialist was understood as equivalent 
to cut-throat and incendiary ? Not because the English 
have the smallest intention of studying or adopting the 
Fabian policy, but because they believe that the Fabians, 
by eliminating the element of intimidation from the 
Socialist agitation, have drawn the teeth of insurgent 
poverty and saved the existing order from the only method 
of attack it really fears. Of course, if the nation adopted 
the Fabian policy, it would be carried out by brute force 
exactly as our present property system is. It would become 
the law; and those who resisted it would be fined, sold up, 
knocked on the head by policemen, thrown into prison, 
and in the last resort ** executed" just as they are when 
they break the present law. But as our proprietary class 
has no fear of that conversion taking place, whereas it does 

204 Man and Superman 

fear sporadic cut-throats and gunpowder plots, and strives 
with all its might to hide the fact that there is no moral 
difference whatever between the methods by which it 
enforces its proprietary rights and the method by which 
the dynamitard asserts his conception of natural human 
rights, the Fabian Society is patted on the back just as the 
Christian Social Union is, whilst the Socialist who says 
bluntly that a Social revolution can be made only as all 
other revolutions have been made, by the people who want 
it killing, coercing, and intimidating the people who dont 
want it, is denounced as a misleader of the people, and 
imprisoned with hard labor to shew him how much sincerity 
there is in the objection of his captors to physical force. 

Are we then to repudiate Fabian methods, and return 
to those of the barricader, or adopt those of the dyna- 
mitard and the assassin ? On the contrary, we are to 
recognize that both are fundamentally futile. It seems 
easy for the dynamitard to say "Have you not just ad- 
mitted that nothing is ever conceded except to physical 
force ? Did not Gladstone admit that the Irish Church 
was disestablished, not by the spirit of Liberalism, but 
by the explosion which wrecked Clerkenwell prison?" 
Well, we need not foolishly and timidly deny it. Let it be 
fully granted. Let us grant, further, that all this lies in the 
nature of things ; that the most ardent Socialist, if he owns 
property, can by no means do otherwise than Conservative 
proprietors until property is forcibly abolished by the whole 
nation ; nay, that ballots and parliamentary divisions, in 
spite of their vain ceremony of discussion, differ from 
battles only as the bloodless surrender of an outnumbered 
force in the field differs from Waterloo or Trafalgar. I 
make a present of all these admissions to the Fenian who 
collects money from thoughtless Irishmen in America to 
blow up Dublin Castle; to the detective who persuades 
foolish young workmen to order bombs from the nearest 
ironmonger and then delivers them up to penal servitude ; 
to our military and naval commanders who believe, not in 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 205 

preaching, but in an ultimatum backed by plenty of lyddite ; 
and, generally, to all whom it may concern. But of what use 
is it to substitute the way of the reckless and bloodyminded 
for the way of the cautious and humane? Is England any 
the better for the wreck of Clerkenwell prison, or Ireland 
for the disestablishment of the Irish Church? Is there the 
smallest reason to suppose that the nation which sheepishly 
let Charles and Laud and Strafford coerce it, gained any- 
thing because it afterwards, still more sheepishly, let a few 
strongminded Puritans, inflamed by the masterpieces of 
Jewish revolutionary literature, cut ofi^ the heads of the 
three? Suppose the Gunpowder plot had succeeded, and a 
Fawkes dynasty permanently set on the throne, would it 
have made any difference to the present state of the 
nation ? The guillotine was used in France up to the 
limit of human endurance, both on Girondins and Jacobins. 
Fouquier Tinville followed Marie Antoinette to the scaffold ; 
and Marie Antoinette might have asked the crowd, just as 
pointedly as Fouquier did, whether their bread would be any 
cheaper when her head was off. And what came of it all ? 
The Imperial France of the Rougon Macquart family, and the 
Republican France of the Panama scandal and the Dreyfus 
case. Was the difference worth the guillotining of all those 
unlucky ladies and gentlemen, useless and mischievous as 
many of them were? Would any sane man guillotine a 
mouse to bring about such a result? Turn to Republican 
America. America has no Star Chamber, and no feudal 
barons. But it has Trusts ; and it has millionaires whose 
factories, fenced in by live electric wires and defended by 
Pinkerton retainers with magazine rifles, would have made 
a Radical of Reginald Front de Bceuf. Would Washing- 
ton or Franklin have lifted a finger in the cause of American 
Independence if they had foreseen its reality? 

No : what Caesar, Cromwell and Napoleon could not 
do with all the physical force and moral prestige of the 
State in their mighty hands, cannot be done by enthusiastic 
criminals and lunatics. Even the Jews, who, from Moses to 

2o6 Man and Superman 

Marx and Lassalle, have inspired all the revolutions, have 
had to confess that, after all, the dog will return to his 
vomit and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in 
the mire ; and we may as well make up our minds that 
Man will return to his idols and his cupidities, in spite of 
all "movements" and all revolutions, until his nature is 
changed. Until then, his early successes in building com- 
mercial civilizations (and such civilizations. Good Heavens!) 
are but preliminaries to the inevitable later stage, now 
threatening us, in which the passions which built the civil- 
ization become fatal instead of productive, just as the same 
qualities which make the lion king in the forest ensure his 
destruction when he enters a city. Nothing can save society 
then except the clear head and the wide purpose : war and 
competition, potent instruments of selection and evolution 
in one epoch, become ruinous instruments of degenera- 
tion in the next. In the breeding of animals and plants, 
varieties which have arisen by selection through many 
generations relapse precipitously into the wild type in a 
generation or two when selection ceases ; and in the same 
way a civilization in which lusty pugnacity and greed have 
ceased to act as selective agents and have begun to obstruct 
and destroy, rushes downwards and backwards with a 
suddenness that enables an observer to see with consterna- 
tion the upward steps of many centuries retraced in a 
single lifetime. This has often occurred even within the 
period covered by history; and in every instance the 
turning point has been reached long before the attainment, 
or even the general advocacy on paper, of the levelling-up 
of the mass to the highest point attainable by the best 
nourished and cultivated normal individuals. 

We must therefore frankly give up the notion that Man 
as he exists is capable of net progress. There will always be 
an illusion of progress, because wherever we are conscious 
of an evil we remedy it, and therefore always seem to our- 
selves to be progressing, forgetting that most of the evils 
we see are the effects, finally become acute, of long-un- 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 207 

noticed retrogressions ; that our compromising remedies 
seldom fully recover the lost ground ; above all, that on 
the lines along which we are degenerating, good has 
become evil in our eyes, and is being undone in the name 
of progress precisely as evil is undone and replaced by 
good on the lines along which we are evolving. This is 
indeed the Illusion of Illusions; for it gives us infallible 
and appalling assurance that if our political ruin is to 
come, it will be effected by ardent reformers and supported 
by enthusiastic patriots as a series of necessary steps in our 
progress. Let the Reformer, the Progressive, the Meliorist 
then reconsider himself and his eternal ifs and ans which 
never become pots and pans. Whilst Man remains what he 
is, there can be no progress beyond the point already 
attained and fallen headlong from at every attempt at 
civilization ; and since even that point is but a pinnacle 
to which a few people cling in giddy terror above an abyss 
of squalor, mere progress should no longer charm us. 


After all, the progress illusion is not so very subtle. We 
begin by reading the satires of our fathers' contemporaries ; 
and we conclude (usually quite ignorantly) that the abuses 
exposed by them are things of the past. We see also that 
reforms of crying evils are frequently produced by the 
sectional shifting of political power from oppressors to 
oppressed. The poor man is given a vote by the Liberals 
in the hope that he will cast it for his emancipators. The 
hope is not fulfilled; but the lifelong imprisonment of 
penniless men for debt ceases ; Factory Acts are passed to 
mitigate sweating; schooling is made free and compulsory; 
sanitary by-laws are multiplied ; public steps are taken to 
house the masses decently; the bare-footed get boots; 
rags become rare ; and bathrooms and pianos, smart 
tweeds and starched collars, reach numbers of people 
who once, as " the unsoaped," played the Jew's harp or 
the accordion in moleskins and belchers. Some of these 
changes are gains : some of them are losses. Some of them 
are not changes at all : all of them are merely the changes 
that money makes. Still, they produce an illusion of 
bustling progress ; and the reading class infers from them 
that the abuses of the early Victorian period no longer 
exist except as amusing pages in the novels of Dickens. 
But the moment we look for a reform due to character 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 209 

and not to money, to statesmanship and not to interest or 
mutiny, we are disillusioned. For example, we remembered 
the maladministration and incompetence revealed by the 
Crimean War as part of a bygone state of things until the 
South African war shewed that the nation and the War 
Office, like those poor Bourbons who have been so impu- 
dently blamed for a universal characteristic, had learnt 
nothing and forgotten nothing. We had hardly recovered 
from the fruitless irritation of this discovery when it tran- 
spired that the officers' mess of our most select regiment 
included a flogging club presided over by the senior 
subaltern. The disclosure provoked some disgust at the 
details of this schoolboyish debauchery, but no surprise at 
the apparent absence of any conception of manly honor 
and virtue, of personal courage and self-respect, in the 
front rank of our chivalry. In civil affairs we had assumed 
that the sycophancy and idolatry which encouraged 
Charles I. to undervalue the Puritan revolt of the XVII 
century had been long outgrown ; but it has needed 
nothing but favorable circumstances to revive, with added 
abjectness to compensate for its lost piety. We have 
relapsed into disputes about transubstantiation at the very 
moment when the discovery of the wide prevalence of 
theophagy as a tribal custom has deprived us of the last 
excuse for believing that our official religious rites differ 
in essentials from those of barbarians. The Christian 
doctrine of the uselessness of punishment and the wicked- 
ness of revenge has not, in spite of its simple common 
sense, found a single convert among the nations : Chris- 
tianity means nothing to the masses but a sensational 
public execution which is made an excuse for other 
executions. In its name we take ten years of a thief's life 
minute by minute in the slow misery and degradation of 
modern reformed imprisonment with as little remorse as 
Laud and his Star Chamber clipped the ears of Bastwick 
and Burton. We dug up and mutilated the remains of the 
Mahdi the other day exactly as we dug up and mutilated 

21 o Man and Superman 

the remains of Cromwell two centuries ago. We have 
demanded the decapitation of the Chinese Boxer princes 
as any Tartar would have done ; and our military and 
naval expeditions to kill, burn, and destroy tribes and 
villages for knocking an Englishman on the head are so 
common a part of our Imperial routine that the last dozen 
of them has not called forth as much pity as can be 
counted on by any lady criminal. The judicial use of 
torture to extort confession is supposed to be a relic of 
darker ages ; but whilst these pages are being written an 
English judge has sentenced a forger to twenty years 
penal servitude with an open declaration that the sentence 
will be carried out in full unless he confesses where he 
has hidden the notes he forged. And no comment whatever 
is made either on this or on a telegram from the seat of 
war in Somaliland mentioning that certain information 
has been given by a prisoner of war " under punishment." 
Even if these reports were false, the fact that they are 
accepted without protest as indicating a natural and proper 
course of public conduct shews that we are still as ready 
to resort to torture as Bacon was. As to vindictive cruelty, 
an incident in the South African war, when the relatives 
and friends of a prisoner were forced to witness his execu- 
tion, betrayed a baseness of temper and character which 
hardly leaves us the right to plume ourselves on our 
superiority to Edward III. at the surrender of Calais. And 
the democratic American officer indulges in torture in the 
Philippines just as the aristocratic English officer did in 
South Africa. The incidents of the white invasion of 
Africa in search of ivory, gold, diamonds and sport, have 
proved that the modern European is the same beast of 
prey that formerly marched to the conquest of new worlds 
under Alexander, Antony, and Pizarro. Parliaments and 
vestries are just what they were when Cromwell suppressed 
them and Dickens derided them. The democratic politician 
remains exactly as Plato described him ; the physician is 
still the credulous impostor and petulant scientific cox- 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 211 

comb whom Moli^rc ridiculed ; the schoolmaster remains 
at best a pedantic child farmer and at worst a flagello- 
maniac ; arbitrations are more dreaded by honest men than 
lawsuits ; the philanthropist is still a parasite on misery as 
the doctor is on disease ; the miracles of priestcraft are 
none the less fraudulent and mischievous because they are 
now called scientific experiments and conducted by pro- 
fessors ; witchcraft, in the modern form of patent medicines 
and prophylactic inoculations, is rampant; the landowner 
who is no longer powerful enough to set the mantrap of 
Rhampsinitis improves on it by barbed wire ; the modern 
gentleman who is too lazy to daub his face with vermilion 
as a symbol of bravery employs a laundress to daub his 
shirt with starch as a symbol of cleanliness ; we shake our 
heads at the dirt of the middle ages in cities made grimy 
with soot and foul and disgusting with shameless tobacco 
smoking ; holy water, in its latest form of disinfectant 
fluid, is more widely used and believed in than ever ; public 
health authorities deliberately go through incantations 
with burning sulphur (which they know to be useless) 
because the people believe in it as devoutly as the Italian 
peasant believes in the liquefaction of the blood of St 
Januarius ; and straightforward public lying has reached 
gigantic developments, there being nothing to choose in 
this respect between the pickpocket at the police station 
and the minister on the treasury bench, the editor in the 
newspaper office, the city magnate advertizing bicycle tires 
that do not side-slip, the clergyman subscribing the thirty- 
nine articles, and the vivisector who pledges his knightly 
honor that no animal operated on in the physiological 
laboratory suffers the slightest pain. Hypocrisy is at its 
worst ; for we not only persecute bigotedly but sincerely 
in the name of the cure-mongering witchcraft we do 
believe in, but callously and hypocritically in the name of 
the Evangelical creed that our rulers privately smile at as 
the Italian patricians of the fifth century smiled at Jupiter 
and Venus. Sport is, as it has always been, murderous 

212 Man and Superman 

excitement : the impulse to slaughter is universal ; and 
museums are set up throughout the country to encourage 
little children and elderly gentlemen to make collections 
of corpses preserved in alcohol, and to steal birds' eggs 
and keep them as the red Indian used to keep scalps. 
Coercion with the lash is as natural to an Englishman as 
it was to Solomon spoiling Rehoboam : indeed, the com- 
parison is unfair to the Jews in view of the facts that the 
Mosaic law forbade more than forty lashes in the name 
of humanity, and that floggings of a thousand lashes were 
inflicted on English soldiers in the XVIII and XIX cen- 
turies, and would be inflicted still but for the change in 
the balance of political power between the military caste 
and the commercial classes and the proletariat. In spite of 
that change, flogging is still an institution in the public 
school, in the military prison, on the training ship, and 
in that school of littleness called the home. The lascivious 
clamor of the flagellomaniac for more of it, constant as 
the clamor for more insolence, more war, and lower rates, 
is tolerated and even gratified because, having no moral 
ends in view, we have sense enough to see that nothing 
but brute coercion can impose our selfish will on others. 
Cowardice is universal : patriotism, public opinion, parental 
duty, discipline, religion, morality, are only fine names for 
intimidation ; and cruelty, gluttony, and credulity keep 
cowardice in countenance. We cut the throat of a calf 
and hang it up by the heels to bleed to death so that our 
veal cutlet may be white ; we nail geese to a board and 
cram them with food because we like the taste of liver 
disease ; we tear birds to pieces to decorate our women's 
hats ; we mutilate domestic animals for no reason at all 
except to follow an instinctively cruel fashion ; and we 
connive at the most abominable tortures in the hope of 
discovering some magical cure for our own diseases by 

Now please observe that these are not exceptional de- 
velopments of our admitted vices, deplored and prayed 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 213 

against by all good men. Not a word has been said here 
of the excesses of our Neros, of whom we have the full 
usual percentage. With the exception of the few military 
examples, which are mentioned mainly to shew that the 
education and standing of a gentleman, reinforced by the 
strongest conventions of honor, esprit de corps, publicity and 
responsibility, afford no better guarantees of conduct than 
the passions of a mob, the illustrations given above are 
commonplaces taken from the daily practices of our best 
citizens, vehemently defended in our newspapers and in our 
pulpits. The very humanitarians who abhor them are stirred 
to murder by them : the dagger of Brutus and Ravaillac is 
still active in the hands of Caserio and Luccheni ; and the 
pistol has come to its aid in the hands of Guiteau and 
Czolgosz. Our remedies are still limited to endurance or 
assassination ; and the assassin is still judicially assassinated 
on the principle that two blacks make a white. The only 
novelty is in our methods : through the discovery of dyna- 
mite the overloaded musket of Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh 
has been superseded by the bomb; but Ravachol's heart 
burns just as Hamilton's did. The world will not bear think- 
ing of to those who know what it is, even with the largest 
discount for the restraints of poverty on the poor and 
cowardice on the rich. 

All that can be said for us is that people must and do 
live and let live up to a certain point. Even the horse, with 
his docked tail and bitted jaw, finds his slavery mitigated by 
the fact that a total disregard of his need for food and rest 
would put his master to the expense of buying a new horse 
every second day ; for you cannot work a horse to death and 
then pick up another one for nothing, as you can a laborer. 
But this natural check on inconsiderate selfishness is itself 
checked, partly by our shortsightedness, and partly by de- 
liberate calculation ; so that beside the man who, to his 
own loss, will shorten his horse's life in mere stinginess, we 
have the tramway company which discovers actuarially that 
though a horse may live from 24 to 40 years, yet it pays 

214 Man and Superman 

better to work him to death in 4 and then replace him by 
a fresh victim. And human slavery, which has reached its 
worst recorded point within our own time in the form of 
free wage labor, has encountered the same personal and 
commercial limits to both its aggravation and its mitigation. 
Now that the freedom of wage labor has produced a scarcity 
of it, as in South Africa, the leading English newspaper and 
the leading English weekly review have openly and without 
apology demanded a return to compulsory labor : that is, to 
the methods by which, as we believe, the Egyptians built 
the pyramids. We know now that the crusade against chattel 
slavery in the XIX century succeeded solely because chattel 
slavery was neither the most effective nor the least humane 
method of labor exploitation ; and the world is now feeling 
its way towards a still more effective system which shall 
abolish the freedom of the worker without again making 
his exploiter responsible for him. 

Still, there is always some mitigation : there is the fear 
of revolt; and there are the effects of kindliness and affec- 
tion. Let it be repeated therefore that no indictment is here 
laid against the world on the score of what its criminals and 
monsters do. The fires of Smithfield and of the Inquisition 
were lighted by earnestly pious people, who were kind and 
good as kindness and goodness go. And when a negro is 
dipped in kerosine and set on fire in America at the present 
time, he is not a good man lynched by ruffians : he is a 
criminal lynched by crowds of respectable, charitable, 
virtuously indignant, high-minded citizens, who, though 
they act outside the law, arc at least more merciful than 
the American legislators and judges who not so long ago 
condemned men to solitary confinement for periods, not of 
five months, as our own practice is, but of five years and 
more. The things that our moral monsters do may be left 
out of account with St. Bartholomew massacres and other 
momentary outbursts of social disorder. Judge us by the ad- 
mitted and respected practice of our most reputable circles ; 
and, if you know the facts and are strong enough to look 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 215 

them in the face, you must admit that unless we are replaced 
by a more highly evolved animal — in short, by the Super- 
man — the world must remain a den of dangerous animals 
among whom our few accidental supermen, our Shakespears, 
Goethes, Shelleys and their like, must live as precariously 
as lion tamers do, taking the humor of their situation, 
and the dignity of their superiority, as a set-off to the horror 
of the one and the loneliness of the other. 



It may be said that though the wild beast breaks out in 
Man and casts him back momentarily into barbarism under 
the excitement of war and crime, yet his normal life is 
higher than the normal life of his forefathers. This view is 
very acceptable to Englishmen, who always lean sincerely 
to virtue's side as long as it costs them nothing either in 
money or in thought. They feel deeply the injustice of 
foreigners, who allow them no credit for this conditional 
highmindedness. But there is no reason to suppose that our 
ancestors were less capable of it than we are. To all such 
claims for the existence of a progressive moral evolution 
operating visibly from grandfather to grandson, there is the 
conclusive reply that a thousand years of such evolution 
would have produced enormous social changes, of which 
the historical evidence would be overwhelming. But not 
Macaulay himself, the most confident of Whig meliorists, 
can produce any such evidence that will bear cross-examina- 
tion. Compare our conduct and our codes with those men- 
tioned contemporarily in such ancient scriptures and classics 
as have come down to us, and you will find no jot of ground 
for the belief that any moral progress whatever has been 
made in historic time, in spite of all the romantic attempts 
of historians to reconstruct the past on that assumption. 
Within that time it has happened to nations as to private 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 217 

families and individuals that they have flourished and decayed, 
repented and hardened their hearts, submitted and protested, 
acted and reacted, oscillated between natural and artificial 
sanitation (the oldest house in the world, unearthed the other 
day in Crete, has quite modern sanitary arrangements), and 
rung a thousand changes on the different scales of income 
and pressure of population, firmly believing all the time that 
mankind was advancing by leaps and bounds because men 
were constantly busy. And the mere chapter of accidents 
has left a small accumulation of chance discoveries, such 
as the wheel, the arch, the safety pin, gunpowder, the mag- 
net, the Voltaic pile and so forth : things which, unlike the 
gospels and philosophic treatises of the sages, can be usefully 
understood and applied by common men; so that steam 
locomotion is possible without a nation of Stephensons, 
although national Christianity is impossible without a nation 
of Christs. But does any man seriously believe that the 
chauffeur who drives a motor car from Paris to Berlin is a 
more highly evolved man than the charioteer of Achilles, 
or that a modern Prime Minister is a more enlightened ruler 
than Cajsar because he rides a tricycle, writes his dispatches 
by the electric light, and instructs his stockbroker through 
the telephone? 

Enough, then, of this goose-cackle about Progress : Man, 
as he is, never will nor can add a cubit to his stature by 
any of its quackeries, political, scientific, educational, 
religious, or artistic. What is likely to happen when this 
conviction gets into the minds of the men whose present 
faith in these illusions is the cement of our social system, 
can be imagined only by those who know how suddenly a 
civilization which has long ceased to think (or in the old 
phrase, to watch and pray) can fall to pieces when the 
vulgar belief in its hypocrisies and impostures can no longer 
hold out against its failures and scandals. When religious 
and ethical formulae become so obsolete that no man of 
strong mind can believe them, they have also reached the 
point at which no man of high character will profess them ; 

2i8 Man and Superman 

and from that moment until they are formally disestablished, 
they stand at the door of every profession and every public 
office to keep out every able man who is not a sophist or a 
liar. A nation which revises its parish councils once in 
three years, but will not revise its articles of religion once 
in three hundred, even when those articles avowedly began 
as a political compromise dictated by Mr Facing-Both- 
Ways, is a nation that needs remaking. 

Our only hope, then, is in evolution. We must replace 
the man by the superman. It is frightful for the citizen, 
as the years pass him, to see his own contemporaries so 
exactly reproduced by the younger generation, that his 
companions of thirty years ago have their counterparts in 
every city crowd, where he has to check himself repeat- 
edly in the act of saluting as an old friend some young man 
to whom he is only an elderly stranger. All hope of advance 
dies in his bosom as he watches them : he knows that they 
will do just what their fathers did, and that the few voices 
which will still, as always before, exhort them to do some- 
thing else and be something better, might as well spare 
their breath to cool their porridge (if they can get any). 
Men like Ruskin and Carlyle will preach to Smith and 
Brown for the sake of preaching, just as St Francis preached 
to the birds and St Anthony to the fishes. But Smith 
and Brown, like the fishes and birds, remain as they are ; 
and poets who plan Utopias and prove that nothing is 
necessary for their realization but that Man should will 
them, perceive at last, like Richard Wagner, that the fact 
to be faced is that Man does not effectively will them. 
And he never will until he becomes Superman. 

And so we arrive at the end of the Socialist's dream of 
**the socialization of the means of production and exchange," 
of the Positivist's dream of moralizing the capitalist, and of 
the ethical professor's, legislator's, educator's dream of 
putting commandments and codes and lessons and examina- 
tion marks on a man as harness is put on a horse, ermine 
on a judge, pipeclay on a soldier, or a wig on an actor, and 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 219 

pretending that his nature has been changed. The only 
fundamental and possible Socialism is the socialization of 
the selective breeding of Man : in other terms, of human 
evolution. We must eliminate the Yahoo, or his vote will 
wreck the commonwealth. 



As to the method, what can be said as yet except that 
where there is a will, there is a way? If there be no will, 
we are lost. That is a possibility for our crazy little empire, 
if not for the universe ; and as such possibilities are not to 
be entertained without despair, we must, whilst we survive, 
proceed on the assumption that we have still energy enough 
to not only will to live, but to will to live better. That 
may mean that we must establish a State Department of 
Evolution, with a seat in the Cabinet for its chief, and a 
revenue to defray the cost of direct State experiments, and 
provide inducements to private persons to achieve successful 
results. It may mean a private society or a chartered com- 
pany for the improvement of human live stock. But for the 
present it is far more likely to mean a blatant repudiation 
of such proposals as indecent and immoral, with, neverthe- 
less, a general secret pushing of the human will in the 
repudiated direction ; so that all sorts of institutions and 
public authorities will under some pretext or other feel 
their way furtively towards the Superman. Mr Graham 
Wallas has already ventured to suggest, as Chairman of the 
School Management Committee of the London School 
Board, that the accepted policy of the Sterilization of the 
Schoolmistress, however administratively convenient, is 
open to criticism from the national stock-breeding point of 


The Revolutionist's Handbook 221 

view ; and this is as good an example as any of the way in 
which the drift towards the Superman may operate in spite 
of all our hypocrisies. One thing at least is clear to begin 
with. If a woman can, by careful selection of a father, and 
nourishment of herself, produce a citizen with efficient 
senses, sound organs and a good digestion, she should clearly 
be secured a sufficient reward for that natural service to 
make her willing to undertake and repeat it. Whether she 
be financed in the undertaking by herself, or by the father, 
or by a speculative capitalist, or by a new department of, 
say, the Royal Dublin Society, or (as at present) by the 
War Office maintaining her "on the strength" and author- 
izing a particular soldier to marry her, or by a local authority 
under a by-law directing that women may under certain 
circumstances have a year's leave of absence on full salary, 
or by the central government, does not matter provided 
the result be satisfactory. 

It is a melancholy fact that as the vast majority of women 
and their husbands have, under existing circumstances, not 
enough nourishment, no capital, no credit, and no know- 
ledge of science or business, they would, if the State would 
pay for birth as it now pays for death, be exploited by 
joint stock companies for dividends, just as they are in 
ordinary industries. Even a joint stock human stud farm 
(piously disguised as a reformed Foundling Hospital or 
something of that sort) might well, under proper inspection 
and regulation, produce better results than our present 
reliance on promiscuous marriage. It may be objected that 
when an ordinary contractor produces stores for sale to the 
Government, and the Government rejects them as not up 
to the required standard, the condemned goods are either 
sold for what they will fetch or else scrapped : that is, 
treated as waste material ; whereas if the goods consisted 
of human beings, all that could be done would be to let 
them loose or send them to the nearest workhouse. But 
there is nothing new in private enterprise throwing its 
human refuse on the cheap labor market and the work- 

222 Man and Superman 

house ; and the refuse of the new industry would presum- 
ably be better bred than the staple product of ordinary 
poverty. In our present happy-go-lucky industrial disorder, 
all the human products, successful or not, would have to 
be thrown on the labor market ; but the unsuccessful ones 
would not entitle the company to a bounty and so would 
be a dead loss to it. The practical commercial difficulty 
would be the uncertainty and the cost in time and money 
of the first experiments. Purely commercial capital would 
not touch such heroic operations during the experimental 
stage ; and in any case the strength of mind needed for so 
momentous a new departure could not be fairly expected 
from the Stock Exchange. It will have to be handled by 
statesmen with character enough to tell our democracy and 
plutocracy that statecraft does not consist in flattering their 
follies or applying their suburban standards of propriety to 
the affairs of four continents. The matter must be taken 
up either by the State or by some organization strong 
enough to impose respect upon the State. 

The novelty of any such experiment, however, is only 
in the scale of it. In one conspicuous case, that of royalty, 
the State does already select the parents on purely political 
grounds ; and in the peerage, though the heir to a duke- 
dom is legally free to marry a dairymaid, yet the social 
pressure on him to confine his choice to politically and 
socially eligible mates is so overwhelming that he is really 
no more free to marry the dairymaid than George IV was 
to marry Mrs Fitzherbert; and such a marriage could only 
occur as a result of extraordinary strength of character on 
the part of the dairymaid acting upon extraordinary weak- 
ness on the part of the duke. Let those who think the 
whole conception of intelligent breeding absurd and scan- 
dalous ask themselves why George IV was not allowed to 
choose his own wife whilst any tinker could marry whom 
he pleased? Simply because it did not matter a rap politi- 
cally whom the tinker married, whereas it mattered very 
much whom the king married. The way in which all 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 223 

considerations of the king's personal rights, of the claims 
of the heart, of the sanctity of the marriage oath, and of 
romantic morality crumpled up before this political need 
shews how negligible all these apparently irresistible pre- 
judices arc when they come into conflict with the demand 
for quality in our rulers. We learn the same lesson from 
the case of the soldier, whose marriage, when it is per- 
mitted at all, is despotically controlled with a view solely 
to military efficiency. 

Well, nowadays it is not the King that rules, but the 
tinker. Dynastic wars are no longer feared, dynastic alli- 
ances no longer valued. Marriages in royal families are 
becoming rapidly less political, and more popular, domestic, 
and romantic. If all the kings in Europe were made as 
free to-morrow as King Cophetua, nobody but their aunts 
and chamberlains would feel a moment's anxiety as to the 
consequences. On the other hand a sense of the social 
importance of the tinker's marriage has been steadily 
growing. We have made a public matter of his wife's 
health in the month after her confinement. We have taken 
the minds of his children out of his hands and put them 
into those of our State schoolmaster. We shall presently 
make their bodily nourishment independent of him. But 
they are still riff-rafi^; and to hand the country over to rifi^- 
raff is national suicide, since riff-raff can neither govern 
nor will let anyone else govern except the highest bidder 
of bread and circuses. There is no public enthusiast alive 
of twenty years practical democratic experience who be- 
lieves in the political adequacy of the electorate or of the 
bodies it elects. The overthrow of the aristocrat has created 
the necessity for the Superman. 

Englishmen hate Liberty and Equality too much to 
understand them. But every Englishman loves and desires 
a pedigree. And in that he is right. King Demos must be 
bred like all other Kings; and with Must there is no 
arguing. It is idle for an individual writer to carry so 
great a matter further in a pamphlet. A conference on the 

224 Man and Superman 

subject is the next step needed. It will be attended by 
men and women who, no longer believing that they can 
live for ever, are seeking for some immortal work into 
which they can build the best of themselves before their 
refuse is thrown into that arch dust destructor, the crema- 
tion furnace. 



The Golden Rule 

Do not do unto others as you would that they should 
do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same. 

Never resist temptation : prove all things : hold fast 
that which is good. 

Do not love your neighbor as yourself. If you are on 
good terms with yourself it is an impertinence : if on bad, 
an injury. 

The golden rule is that there are no golden rules. 


The art of government is the organization of idolatry. 

The bureaucracy consists of functionaries ; the aristo- 
cracy, of idols ; the democracy, of idolaters. 

The populace cannot understand the bureaucracy : it 
can only worship the national idols. 

The savage bows down to idols of wood and stone : the 
civilized man to idols of flesh and blood. 

A limited monarchy is a device for combining the 
inertia of a wooden idol with the credibility of a flesh and 
blood one. 

228 Man and Superman 

When the wooden idol does not answer the peasant's 
prayer, he beats it : when the flesh and blood idol does 
not satisfy the civilized man, he cuts its head off. 

He who slays a king and he who dies for him are alike 


Kings are not born : they are made by artificial hallu- 
cination. When the process is interrupted by adversity at 
a critical age, as in the case of Charles II, the subject be- 
comes sane and never completely recovers his kingliness. 

The Court is the servant's hall of the sovereign. 

Vulgarity in a king flatters the majority of the nation. 

The flunkeyism propagated by the throne is the price 
we pay for its political convenience. 


If the lesser mind could measure the greater as a foot- 
rule can measure a pyramid, there would be finality in 
universal suffrage. As it is, the political problem remains 

Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent 
many for appointment by the corrupt few. 

Democratic republics can no more dispense with national 
idols than monarchies with public functionaries. 

Government presents only one problem : the discovery 
of a trustworthy anthropometric method. 

Excess of insularity makes a Briton an Imperialist. 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 229 

Excess of local self-assertion makes a colonist an Im- 

A colonial Imperialist is one who raises colonial troops, 
equips a colonial squadron, claims a Federal Parliament 
sending its measures to the Throne instead of to the 
Colonial Office, and, being finally brought by this means 
into insoluble conflict with the insular British Imperialist, 
"cuts the painter" and breaks up the Empire. 

Liberty and Equality 

He who confuses political liberty with freedom and 
political equality with similarity has never thought for five 
minutes about either. 

Nothing can be unconditional : consequently nothing 
can be free. 

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men 
dread it. 

The duke inquires contemptuously whether his game- 
keeper is the equal of the Astronomer Royal; but he 
insists that they shall both be hanged equally if they 
murder him. 

The notion that the colonel need be a better man than 
the private is as confused as the notion that the keystone 
need be stronger than the coping stone. 

Where equality is undisputed, so also is subordination. 

Equality is fundamental in every department of social 

The relation of superior to inferior excludes good 


When a man teaches something he does not know to 
somebody else who has no aptitude for it, and gives him a 

230 Man and Superman 

certificate of proficiency, the latter has completed the 
education of a gentleman. 

A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into 
superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University 

The best brought-up children are those who have seen 
their parents as they are. Hypocrisy is not the parent's 
first duty. 

The vilest abortionist is he who attempts to mould a 
child's character. 

At the University every great treatise is postponed 
until its author attains impartial judgment and perfect 
knowledge. If a horse could wait as long for its shoes and 
would pay for them in advance, our blacksmiths would all 
be college dons. 

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches. 

A learned man is an idler who kills time with study. 
Beware of his false knowledge : it is more dangerous than 

Activity is the only road to knowledge. 

Every fool believes what his teachers tell him, and 
calls his credulity science or morality as confidently as his 
father called it divine revelation. 

No man fully capable of his own language ever masters 

No man can be a pure specialist without being in the 
strict sense an idiot. 

Do not give your children moral and religious in- 
struction unless you are quite sure they will not take it 
too seriously. Better be the mother of Henri Quarte 
and Nell Gwynne than of R.obespierre and gueen Mary 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 231 


Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum 
of temptation with the maximum of opportunity. 

Marriage is the only legal contract which abrogates as 
between the parties all the laws that safeguard the parti- 
cular relation to which it refers. 

The essential function of marriage is the continuance 
of the race, as stated in the Book of Common Prayer. 

The accidental function of marriage is the gratification 
of the amoristic sentiment of mankind. 

The artificial sterilization of marriage makes it possible 
for marriage to fulfil its accidental function whilst neglect- 
ing its essential one. 

The most revolutionary invention of the XIX century 
was the artificial sterilization of marriage. 

Any marriage system which condemns a majority of the 
population to celibacy will be violently wrecked on the 
pretext that it outrages morality. 

Polygamy, when tried under modern democratic con- 
ditions, as by the Mormons, is wrecked by the revolt of 
the mass of inferior men who are condemned to celibacy 
by it ; for the maternal instinct leads a woman to prefer 
a tenth share in a first rate man to the exclusive posses- 
sion of a third rate one. Polyandry has not been tried 
under these conditions. 

The minimum of national celibacy (ascertained by 
dividing the number of males in the community by the 
number of females, and taking the quotient as the number 
of wives or husbands permitted to each person) is secured 
in England (where the quotient is i) by the institution of 

232 Man and Superman 

The modern sentimental term for the national minimum 
of celibacy is Purity. 

Marriage, or any other form of promiscuous amoristic 
monogamy, is fatal to large States because it puts its ban 
on the deliberate breeding of man as a political animal. 

Crime and Punishment 

All scoundrelism is summed up in the phrase *' Que 
Messieurs les Assassins commencent ! " 

The man who has graduated from the flogging block at 
Eton to the bench from which he sentences the garotter to 
be flogged is the same social product as the garotter who 
has been kicked by his father and cuffed by his mother 
until he has grown strong enough to throttle and rob the 
rich citizen whose money he desires. 

Imprisonment is as irrevocable as death. 

Criminals do not die by the hands of the law. They 
die by the hands of other men. 

The assassin Czolgosz made President McKinley a 
hero by assassinating him. The United States of America 
made Czolgosz a hero by the same process. 

Assassination on the scafix>ld is the worst form of assas- 
sination, because there it is invested with the approval of 

It is the deed that teaches, not the name we give it. 
Murder and capital punishment are not opposites that 
cancel one another, but similars that breed their kind. 

Crime is only the retail department of what, in whole- 
sale, we call penal law. 

When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport : 
when the tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity. 
The distinction between Crime and Justice is no greater. 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 233 

Whilst wc have prisons it matters little which of us 
occupy the cells. 

The most anxious man in a prison is the governor. 

It is not necessary to replace a guillotined criminal : it 
is necessary to replace a guillotined social system. 


Titles distinguish the mediocre, embarrass the superior, 
and are disgraced by the inferior. 

Great men refuse titles because they are jealous of 


There arc no perfectly honorable men ; but every true 
man has one main point of honor and a few minor ones. 

You cannot believe in honor until you have achieved 
it. Better keep yourself clean and bright : you arc the 
window through which you must see the world. 

Your word can never be as good as your bond because 
your memory can never be as trustworthy as your honor. 


Property, said Proudhon, is theft. This is the only 
perfect truism that has been uttered on the subject. 


When domestic servants are treated as human beings 
it is not worth while to keep them. 

234 Man and Superman 

The relation of master and servant is advantageous 
only to masters who do not scruple to abuse their authority, 
and to servants who do not scruple to abuse their trust. 

The perfect servant, when his master makes humane 
advances to him, feels that his existence is threatened, and 
hastens to change his place. 

Masters and servants are both tyrannical ; but the 
masters are the more dependent of the two. 

A man enjoys what he uses, not what his servants use. 

Man is the only animal which esteems itself rich in 
proportion to the number and voracity of its parasites. 

Ladies and gentlemen are permitted to have friends in 
the kennel, but not in the kitchen. 

Domestic servants, by making spoiled children of their 
masters, are forced to intimidate them in order to be able 
to live with them. 

In a slave state, the slaves rule : in Mayfair, the 
tradesman rules. 

How TO Beat Children 

If you strike a child, take care that you strike it in 
anger, even at the risk of maiming it for life. A blow in 
cold blood neither can nor should be forgiven. 

If you beat children for pleasure, avow your object 
frankly, and play the game according to the rules, as a 
foxhunter does; and you will do comparatively little harm. 
No foxhunter is such a cad as to pretend that he hunts 
the fox to teach it not to steal chickens, or that he suffers 
more acutely than the fox at the death. Remember that 
even in childbeating there is the sportsman's way and the 
cad's way. 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 235 


Beware of the man whose god is in the skies. 

What a man believes may be ascertained, not from his 
creed, but from the assumptions on which he habitually 

Virtues and Vices 

No specific virtue or vice in a man implies the existence 
of any other specific virtue or vice in him, however closely 
the imagination may associate them. 

Virtue consists, not in abstaining from vice, but in not 
desiring it. 

Self-denial is not a virtue: it is only the efl^sct of 
prudence on rascality. 

Obedience simulates subordination as fear of the police 
simulates honesty. 

Disobedience, the rarest and most courageous of the 
virtues, is seldom distinguished from neglect, the laziest 
and commonest of the vices. 

Vice is waste of life. Poverty, obedience and celibacy 
are the canonical vices. 

Economy is the art of making the most of life. 

The love of economy is the root of all virtue. 


The love of fairplay is a spectator's virtue, not a 

236 Man and Superman 


Greatness is only one of the sensations of littleness. 

In heaven an angel is nobody in particular. 

Greatness is the secular name for Divinity : both mean 
simply what lies beyond us. 

If a great man could make us understand him, we 
should hang him. 

We admit that when the divinity we worshipped made 
itself visible and comprehensible we crucified it. 

To a mathematician the eleventh means only a single 
unit : to the bushman who cannot count further than his 
ten fingers it is an incalculable myriad. 

The difference between the shallowest routineer and 
the deepest thinker appears, to the latter, trifling ; to the 
former, infinite. 

In a stupid nation the man of genius becomes a god : 
everybody worships him and nobody does his will. 

Beauty and Happiness, Art and Riches 

Happiness and Beauty are by-products. 

Folly is the direct pursuit of Happiness and Beauty, 

Riches and Art are spurious receipts for the production 
of Happiness and Beauty. 

He who desires a lifetime of happiness with a beautiful 
woman desires to enjoy the taste of wine by keeping his 
mouth always full of it. 

The most intolerable pain is produced by prolonging 
the keenest pleasure. 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 237 

The man with toothache thinks everyone happy whose 
teeth are sound. The poverty stricken man makes the same 
mistake about the rich man. 

The more a man possesses over and above what he 
uses, the more careworn he becomes. 

The tyranny that forbids you to make the road with 
pick and shovel is worse than that which prevents you 
from lolling along it in a carriage and pair. 

In an ugly and unhappy world the richest man can 
purchase nothing but ugliness and unhappincss. 

In his efforts to escape from ugliness and unhappiness 
the rich man intensifies both. Every new yard of West 
End creates a new acre of East End. 

The XIX century was the Age of Faith in Fine Art. 
The results are before us. 

The Perfect Gentleman 

The fatal reservation of the gentleman is that he sacri- 
fices everything to his honor except his gentility. 

A gentleman of our days is one who has money enough 
to do what every fool would do if he could afford it : that 
is, consume without producing. 

The true diagnostic of modern gentility is parasitism. 

No elaboration of physical or moral accomplishment 
can atone for the sin of parasitism. 

A modern gentleman is necessarily the enemy of his 
country. Even in war he does not fight to defend it, but 
to prevent his power of preying on it from passing to a 
foreigner. Such combatants are patriots in the same sense 
as two dogs fighting for a bone are lovers of animals. 

The North American Indian was a type of the sports- 
man warrior gentleman. The Periclean Athenian was a 

238 Man and Superman 

type of the intellectually and artistically cultivated gentle- 
man. Both were political failures. The modern gentleman, 
without the hardihood of the one or the culture of the 
other, has the appetite of both put together. He will not 
succeed where they failed. 

He who believes in education, criminal law, and sport, 
needs only property to make him a perfect modern gentle- 


Moderation is never applauded for its own sake. 

A moderately honest man with a moderately faithful 
wife, moderate drinkers both, in a moderately healthy 
house : that is the true middle class unit. 

The Unconscious Self 

The unconscious self is the real genius. Your breathing 
goes wrong the moment your conscious self meddles 
with it. 

Except during the nine months before he draws his first 
breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does. 


The reasonable man adapts himself to the world : the 
unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to 
himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreason- 
able man. 

The man who listens to Reason is lost : Reason enslaves 
all whose minds are not strong enough to master her. 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 239 


Decency is Indecency's Conspiracy of Silence. 


Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, 
but to their capacity for experience. 

If we could learn from mere experience, the stones of 
London would be wiser than its wisest men. 

Time's Revenges 

Those whom we called brutes had their revenge when 
Darwin shewed us that they were our cousins. 

The thieves had their revenge when Marx convicted 
the bourgeoisie of theft. 

Good Intentions 

Hell is paved with good intentions, not with bad ones. 
All men mean well. 

Natural Rights 

The Master of Arts, by proving that no man has any 
natural rights, compels himself to take his own for granted. 

The right to live is abused whenever it is not constantly 

240 Man and Superman 

Faute de Mieux 

In my childhood I demurred to the description of a 
certain young lady as " the pretty Miss So and So." My 
aunt rebuked me by saying " Remember always that the 
least plain sister is the family beauty." 

No age or condition is without its heroes. The least 
incapable general in a nation is its Caesar, the least 
imbecile statesman its Solon, the least confused thinker its 
Socrates, the least commonplace poet its Shakespear. 

Charity is the most mischievous sort of pruriency. 

Those who minister to poverty and disease are accom- 
plices in the two worst of all the crimes. 

He who gives money he has not earned is generous 
with other people's labor. 

Every genuinely benevolent person loathes almsgiving 
and mendicity. 

Life levels all men : death reveals the eminent. 



Mutiny Acts are needed only by officers who command 
without authority. Divine right needs no whip. 

Women in the Home 
Home is the girl's prison and the woman's workhouse. 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 241 


Civilization is a disease produced by the practice of 
building societies with rotten material. 

Those who admire modern civilization usually identify 
it with the steam engine and the electric telegraph. 

Those who understand the steam engine and the electric 
telegraph spend their lives in trying to replace them with 
something better. 

The imagination cannot conceive a viler criminal than 
he who should build another London like the present one, 
nor a greater benefactor than he who should destroy it. 


The most popular method of distributing wealth is the 
method of the roulette table. 

The roulette table pays nobody except him that keeps 
it. Nevertheless a passion for gaming is common, though a 
passion for keeping roulette tables is unknown. 

Gambling promises the poor what Property performs 
for the rich : that is why the bishops dare not denounce it 

The Social Question 

Do not waste your time on Social Questions. What is 
the matter with the poor is Poverty : what is the matter 
with the rich is Usclessness. 

Stray Sayings 

We are told that when Jehovah created the world he 
saw that it was good. What would he say now? 


242 Man and Superman 

The conversion of a savage to Christianity is the con- 
version of Christianity to savagery. 

No man dares say so much of what he thinks as to 
appear to himself an extremist. 

Mens sana in corpore sano is a foolish saying. The 
sound body is a product of the sound mind. 

Decadence can find agents only when it wears the mask 
of progress. 

In moments of progress the noble succeed, because 
things are going their way : in moments of decadence the 
base succeed for the same reason : hence the world is 
never without the exhilaration of contemporary success. 

The reformer for whom the world is not good enough 
finds himself shoulder to shoulder with him that is not 
good enough for the world. 

Every man over forty is a scoundrel. 

Youth, which is forgiven everything, forgives itself 
nothing : age, which forgives itself everything, is forgiven 

When we learn to sing that Britons never will be 
masters we shall make an end of slavery. 

Do not mistake your objection to defeat for an objec- 
tion to fighting, your objection to being a slave for an 
objection to slavery, your objection to not being as rich 
as your neighbor for an objection to poverty. The cowardly, 
the insubordinate, and the envious share your objections. 

Take care to get what you like or you will be forced 
to like what you get. Where there is no ventilation fresh 
air is declared unwholesome. Where there is no religion 
hypocrisy becomes good taste. Where there is no know- 
ledge ignorance calls itself science. 

If the wicked flourish and the fittest survive. Nature 
must be the God of rascals. 

The Revolutionist's Handbook 243 

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always 
happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from 
experience ! 

Compassion is the fellow-feeling of the unsound. 

Those who understand evil pardon it : those who resent 
it destroy it. 

Acquired notions of propriety are stronger than natural 
instincts. It is easier to recruit for monasteries and con- 
vents than to induce an Arab woman to uncover her 
mouth in public, or a British officer to walk through Bond 
Street in a golfing cap on an afternoon in May. 

It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid. 

The Chinese tame fowls by clipping their wings, and 
women by deforming their feet. A petticoat round the 
ankles serves equally well. 

Political Economy and Social Economy are amusing 
intellectual games ; but Vital Economy is the Philosopher's 

When a heretic wishes to avoid martyrdom he speaks 
of "Orthodoxy, True and False" and demonstrates that 
the True is his heresy. 

Beware of the man who does not return your blow : he 
neither forgives you nor allows you to forgive yourself. 

If you injure your neighbor, better not do it by halves. 

Sentimentality is the error of supposing that quarter 
can be given or taken in moral conflicts. 

Two starving men cannot be twice as hungry as one ; 
but two rascals can be ten times as vicious as one. 

Make your cross your crutch ; but when you see 
another man do it, beware of him. 

244 Man and Superman 


Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people with- 
out blushing. 

If you begin by sacrificing yourself to those you love, 
you will end by hating those to whom you have sacrificed 


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[589 2 6 

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. 1640 1 

[570 1 

1557 2 6 

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"iEnidl-IV" in English 
hexameters. . . .3 

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